The Cat’s Back is a typical pub theatre. A small raised platform serves as a stage and chairs are squashed together to form a make-shift audience. A Glass Half Full Theatre comes bounding onto the stage and immediately welcomes us in, full of energy and fun, proving that you can make and create art anywhere.
An excited newsreader presents the policies of our two opposing political parties. The candidates are exaggeratedly stuffy and authoritative against our enthusiastic host. The sketch has a playful feel, that is similar to what one might expect when watching Saturday night entertainment on television. WGAF party by Tom Stocks creates caricatures of what we would expect of the far left and far right respectively, allowing us to laugh at these familiar figures and with the fun atmosphere the actors have instantly created, we are willing to do so, and the tone of the night is set. When we meet the Who Gives a Fuck party, who emerges from the audience slurring and telling us she is the majority, the ones who don’t vote – we are fully on board. A pointed observation has been put forward theatrically and the audience can clearly see the disparity within our ‘broken Britain’.
Considering the sketches were by different writers the whole piece moved fluidly and wasn’t too jarring. Generation Rent and the Immigration Game had a similar smack of sarcasm but the point was not so clear perhaps. They continued with the style of a game show and used this device to poke fun at extortionate rent prices and the vigorous interrogations imposed on anybody suspected to be an immigrant. Generation Rent saw
the impossibility of gathering a deposit being mirrored in a couple’s frantic attempt to build a table out of newspaper. There was slight discourse in the actor’s styles at this point though. The couple seemed sincere with naturalistic acting portraying their despair, which was confusing when compared to the game show host’s mocking glee. The two styles just didn’t quite gel and made the narrative less coherent.
Then there was the Immigration Game. A man is stopped by airport security and a stream of absurd questions is hurled at him as they try to decide whether or not he should be deported. Fun yes, but a little predictable. Everybody knows rent is expensive and authorities are strict on immigration. It seemed nothing new was being said and I was lost as to what the point was. With such capable actors, and the frivolity of the atmosphere they had worked to create, it seemed more boundaries could have been pushed and an opportunity was missed to spark real debate.
Having said that, there were moments throughout the show where we touched on something more poignant. Poetry was attempted twice I think… lovely snippets that delved a little deeper into the issues at hand. If they find a way of framing this correctly and give the text a little time to connect with the audience, I think this could really add something to the show.
The final sketch Too Thick for Politics shows two people with opposing political views having a conversation in a pub. This is an arranged meeting of minds, facilitated by some sort of researcher who is overlooking the conversation with a clipboard at hand. This character may not have been needed, but the dichotomy of the two opposing characters was interesting to watch, if not a little one-sided. Our Essex ‘leftie’ breaks the fourth wall and shares her views with us and irritation at the prejudice she is accustomed to. This audience interaction allows her more empathy from the audience. We do also discover at the end that the right-leaning man may too have been misjudged and supports Brexit in support of his father’s business, rather than racist reasons, presupposed by the left-leaning participant. However, we are mostly exposed to the beliefs and struggles of the left-leaning
character, which seems dangerous in a show about politics. It may have been braver if the audience had been allowed the opportunity to listen and understand each of them in equal measure.
Overall, I feel Brittle Britain was entertaining and did a great job within the space. It presented a piece that was accessible to people from all walks of life and it is always positive to do this when opening up the topic of politics. The acting was strong – the performers confident and engaging. I do hope the piece will be developed though. If they delve a little deeper into what it is they want to say and find a way of framing this message to ensure it is really delivered to the audience, this piece could have a real impact.
Review by Frey Bardell
Brittle Britain is a trio of sketches formed through Actor Awareness taking the mick out of the current climate. We all decided to come together after meeting at Actor awareness and I thought that our three sketches could work well alongside each other in an hour long show that points the finger at this crazy world we live in. ‘Too Thick for Politics’ is a clever sketch based around 2 young people who are forced onto a date, they have opposing political ideas. ‘Brittle Britain’ is a comedic take on political parties and young people voting as well as a hilarious sketch on immigration. ‘Generation Rent’ is a black mirror type sketch where a working class couple are forced on a tv show to win a house, with the odds set firmly against them is all hope lost to own a house in the modern day.