Monday 9 February 2009

Moving in: moving out

Are England People Very Nice, asks a new play at the National Theatre. The play comes laden with comedy, which makes a nice change for a work of theatre dealing with the tricky issues of immigration and public attitudes.
It treads a fine line between historical stereotypes and producing something new and different, but Bean does it with a light hand, which is likely to draw a big audience in, even if I have a sneaking feeling that the critics might be down on it for being "too lowbrow" or too easy to watch.
Bean has a little dig at everyone, misinformed socialists, English Jews, imams, the French, the Irish, everyone takes a bit of a poke.
He does a sweep through five centuries of life in Bethnal Green, as one set of immigrants gets replaces by another, and one set of animosties is replaced by another.
What's brilliant about the play is the fun it is to watch. It the theatre version of a graphic novel, with clever animations running across the set, and you can't help but be impressed.
You leave the theatre not sure whether Bean believes that the English have learnt anything from centuries of immigration or whether it is even possible to change.

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