Seventies anarchists turn out to be a bit tedious at the Bush
This overlong and rather pointless production is a play of two halves, which don’t add up to a satisfactory whole. It’s loosely based on the true story of the Angry Brigade, four young anarchists in the early seventies whose aim was to bring down the establishment without offering any suggestions as to what they would replace it with.
Their modus operandi was to explode bombs around London and their targets were banks, embassies, the 1970 Miss World Contest, and the homes of Conservative MPs, all of which got them the publicity they craved. There were 25 bombs in all and the fact that nobody was seriously hurt is something of a miracle.
They weren’t very pleasant and it’s hard to see why they should be the subject of a play which makes no meaningful attempt at any political or social analysis nor does it try to explore their motives. It was two and a half hours of my life I’ll never get back.
The first act is about the police who are looking for the Angry Brigade.
There’s a bit of the Keystone Cops about them about them as they blunder around, even resorting to sharing a joint and engaging in a bit of free love to try to work out how these young people think.
To be fair, there were some genuinely funny moments here.
The pace changes in the second act which is about
the Angry Brigade, with the action moving to their flat in Stoke Newington. Here we get to listen to them spout anarchist rants - you name it they’re against it.
This includes teapots, cooking, caring, television and music both classical and modern. Even privacy comes into the frame so they knock down all the walls in the flat leaving the lavatory exposed. They justify that with a string of trite maxims in line with their ideology. God, they do go on.
There’s a bit of cod psychology thrown in, which doesn’t add anything, but it serves as relief from the ranting and the noise of filing cabinets being knocked over to represent the bombs.
It’s very tedious, so it comes as a relief when the police finally catch up with them and they are sent to prison.
Full credit has to go to the four young actors who play all the parts. They are Harry Melling, Felix Scott, Patsy Ferran and Scarlett Alice Johnson who slipped in and out of the various characters without missing a beat. They were the best thing about the whole evening.
The Angry Brigade continues at the Bush Theatre until June 13 with extra matinees on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and a 14+. BushGreen Live Debate: Is anarchism a useful political ideology? on May 27 at 6pm.
Find out more and book tickets here
May 11, 2015