Monday, 17 July 2017

Rebel without a pause? Wet Bread, Kings Head Theatre

Where are we now as waves of seemingly unconnected political shocks rock long-held certainties of the democratic process? As Adam Curtis says in Hyper-normalisation, “We live with the constant vaudeville of contradictory stories that makes it impossible for any real opposition to emerge because they can’t counter it with a coherent narrative…”

There’s plenty of fight but who do we take it to and do placards and principles count for anything when a self-motivated electorate swings violently form one protest vote to the next.

Written by BBC Trans Comedy Award Winner, Tom Glover, Wet Bread was inspired by the aftermath of the 2015 General Election when victory was snatched by David Cameron from the jaws of a hung parliament. Now, after Teresa May has engineered the exact reverse, things may be a little different but… for how long?

Morag Sims plays every character in this affecting and very funny show but mostly she is Adele, a young-ish Labour supporter who, well… is a dedicated follower of the protest of the moment.  She’s earnest about everything even if she never seems to quite follow through with steadfast resolve once the placards have been packed away. Unsurprisingly, Adele was based on people Glover knows in Brighton and, naturally, the play travelled very well to Islington – as you’d expect – with a lot of us laughing along with the jokes at our expense.

Morag Sims a woman of many parts!
It’s good to laugh as, along with wet bread “funny” is one of things we can all agree on and Morgan is not alone in thinking that this is something we should be doing more of.

Adele is not meant to represent all left-wingers though, just a particularly funny take on the type of person who finds protesting cathartic even if, in the opinion of many in the play, it achieves little or nothing. At one point, it seems as if the political battle is being compared with the physical battle Adele’s mother is having against cancer. She refuses to fight the disease because that way she can’t lose but there’s no way she’ll ever give in to it: a subtle but important distinction.

We can fight specific political narratives – such as they are – but we shouldn’t overlook the need to live and love and we shouldn’t forget the need to respect our fellow electorate: to paraphrase Evelyn Beatrice Hall you might not like what someone says but you must accept their right to say it, painful though that may be.

Staging a protest...
In the play Adele is constantly trying to live up to her left-wing principles only to be disappointed by the reality of friends who find her suffocatingly-distracted, working class neighbours in abusive relationships who don’t appreciate her platitudes and even the Scotsman, Richard, who she tries to help by offering him accommodation. Richard finds her condescending and compares her caffeine “addiction” with his own substance abuse…

But this relationship offers a chink of light at the end as he appreciates that she tried… so much so he gives her his sole possession, a broken foot spa!

One policemen reflects: “tofu types… they don’t actually change anything for all their noise….” But it’s hard to completely accept this after the last election and in the face of every successful revolutionary movement in history. 

The Beatles Revolution plays us out at the end but don’t forget there are two versions one with John saying, “count me out” and the other “count me out…in…” Some revolutionary moments are important not to miss.

As the country continues to batter itself to a social media standstill over “taking our country back” it’s important that protests are still made. The play’s message of Stop Fighting Just Love is that we should take politics more seriously. We need to follow through.

Morag Sims is quite amazing, playing literally dozens of characters and all of them convincingly well: so subtle in dialogue with herself and carefully demarcating each personality. Quite a feat and she gets the Alec Guiness award for theatrical flexibility!

The Sheer Drop company have produced a gem here and whilst Wet Bread played three dates at the Kings Head as part of Festival 47, I would urge you to catch this thought-provoking play when next it pops up. And watch out for Morag, for she is a sincerely impressive performer!

Ithankyou rating: ****

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