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The Angry Brigade

Published 7 May 2015

What’s it all about?

All attention may be on James Graham’s The Vote today, but last night the press were treated to another of the writer’s riveting, raucous and politically fascinating works as The Angry Brigade brought anarchy to the Bush Theatre.

High unemployment, disenfranchised youth and spending cuts may sound familiar but The Angry Brigade takes us back to 1970s London for the true story of a group of four British anarchists, who planted a series of bombs across London, told in two halves from very different sides.

In Act One, we are in the basement of a police station, where a group of uptight officers are led to revolutionary lengths by Detective Superintendent Smith’s determination to sniff out the terrorists by embodying the mind-set of these ‘delinquents’.

Curtain up on Act Two and we meet the culprits at their home in Stoke Newington to discover why four educated young people decided to wage war on the establishment.

Who’s in it?

James Grieve’s exhilarating production is led by Harry Melling, who shakes off that all too annoying Harry Potter-alumni label [Melling played Dudley in the films] to give a restless, unpredictable and physically transformative performance as a host of characters from a stuffy sitcom-esque police officer to The Angry Brigade’s most unhinged and aggressive member Jim. He is an actor who clearly has fire in his belly, making him both exciting to watch and a perfect fit for Grieve’s off the wall direction that mixes stylised skits with moments of raw passionate rebellion.

A strong trio complete the cast with Mark Arends impassioned as both the analytical Smith and quietly determined anarchist John, and Lizzy Watts hilariously awkward as uptight police officer Parker, while Pearl Chanda gives an affecting performance as the conflicted Anna, the only member of The Angry Brigade to struggle to let go of their conventional urges.

What should I look out for?

Olivier Award nominated Tom Gibbons’ sound design. From the outset it gives the production a rock n roll edge, ramping up both the tension and exhilaration.

In a nutshell?

James Graham’s riveting, downright raucous and politically fascinating work is bought to life in James Grieve’s fittingly anarchic production that boasts both addictive punk spirit and near flawless direction.

What’s being said on Twitter?

@FionaNHughes Don’t miss The Angry Brigade @bushtheatre. Sod those other losers – I’m voting for @mrjamesgraham
@Carolin_Ott Had a fantastic time @bushtheatre last night watching #TheAngryBrigade with @HannahBanister What a great play! @painesplough #theatre #70s

Will I like it?

The Angry Brigade will appeal to those who like to be kept on their toes. You invest in characters only to have them whipped from under your feet, find yourself in one environment only for a joint to be pulled out and anarchy to wreak havoc. You judge only to find yourself uncomfortable in your unexpected sympathising. If that sounds up your street, head to the Bush and enjoy the ride.

The Angry Brigade is playing until 13 June. You can book tickets through the Bush Theatre’s website.

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