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First Published 22 September 2014, Last Updated 22 September 2014

What’s it all about?

The rise to the main stream of far right politics and the sanitisation of racism told with the help of karaoke classics.

Yep, that’s right. Sound odd? It is, a little. Like opening a karaoke set with Lady In Red. Maybe not quite as odd as that. Local pub The Albion is the home of the English Protection Army and runs karaoke most nights of the week. Starring in their own mini X Factor gives karaoke fans a chance to escape from the real world whilst also expressing their thoughts behind the safety of someone else’s lyrics… which is a useful tool in a play that is as much about perception and presentation as it is prejudice.

Who’s in it?

Keep an eye out for recent Arts Ed graduate Tony Clay, who could well be a star in the making. As karaoke king and gay younger brother of the EPA’s leader, Jayson, he brings confusion, vulnerability, sweetness and a revolting darkness to the stage.

Natalie Casey (Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps) reveals the hurt and abandonment behind the calculation shown by ex-social worker Christine, former EastEnder Steve John Shepherd seethes with frustration and anger as thug-trying-to-be-taken-seriously Paul, and former I Can’t Sing star Delroy Atkinson gives a performance filled with the potential to erupt with violence.

What should I look out for?

The playwright Chris Thompson capturing modern life on stage – from the awkwardness of a time-laggy Skype conversation to a bloodless social media coup – and setting it in an East End boozer that I could have drunk in any evening of my formative years (which were a decade or so ago).

The most sinister performances of I Will Survive and It’s Raining Men you’re ever likely to see.

In a nutshell?

A timely and open-handed look at the rise of the far right. With the Spice Girls. And Cyndi Lauper.

What’s being said on Twitter?

@alan_john_ward A musical without being a musical, politically astute and frighteningly comparable to reality, #ALBIONplay at the @bushtheatre has it all.

@SarahKosar Congrats to all involved with #ALBIONplay by @lechris_t. What an absolutely thrilling & provocative play that had me singing in my seat!

Will I like it?

Like a grown man singing Whigfield’s Saturday Night, karaoke and the politics of the far right is an odd combination. Sometimes it works and sometimes it leaves you a touch dumbfounded. What Thompson undoubtedly manages to do is explore the conditions that have allowed these political views to grow and gain purchase, his characters far more than simply loutish thugs have travelled to this point in their lives. You may not sing from their hymn sheet (or karaoke screen) but they’ll certainly make you think.

Albion is playing at the Bush Theatre until 25 October. You can book tickets through the theatre’s website.


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