So here I am on a Wednesday afternoon turning into evening in less than an hour staring blankly at my computer screen. What on earth shall I write about? I ask myself. I mean, let’s face it, in theory I should write about our new show coming to Brighton Fringe at the end of the month… and guess what it is about? Brexit
When I and Samuel Toye (OK. I haven’t properly introduced myself I know, the idea is that I should write several posts so give me some slack here) began to work on this show in February 2017 we had a quick chat about how long we would be touring with this show.
“You know Samuel”, I said wisely (probably because I’m older than Samuel and I’m bald) “every show has a life-cycle and I think this will be die out in a couple of years.”
Fast forward two years and not only was I completely wrong but it seems the show is just beginning to grow. Furthermore, the irony is that our comedy has been overtaken by the farcical reality of what now seems a bloody mess if not a chapter of a political science-fiction movie. On the one end the Galactic Empire (EU?) and the on the other one the untidy and quarrelsome rebels (UK?).
As any artist I try to make order out of chaos but here we have chaos at an unimaginable level. Or maybe not? Because what is frightening about what we wrote 2 years ago is that, in a way, we simply predicted what was going to come. Indeed at the end of the play the audience discovers that Brexit is not about Britain at all. It is rather a symbol, a historical event that defines the passage from one era to the other.
The end of NATO, the raising populism and walls within continental Europe, the renaissance of Russia, the surge of China as the new world player, and the inevitable conflict ensuing between the Red Dragon and the United States as one great power threatens to displace another (the so-called Thucydides Trap). Fifty years from now historians may look at Brexit as the dividing line in this process, pretty much like the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989.
In February 2017, in hindsight, it was quite clear that the referendum had represented the first time that a popular vote (at least by Western standards) was not driven by economic concerns. The motto It’s the Economy Stupid! had suddenly become It’s not the Economy Stupid!
Let’s face it GDP growth does not really steer feelings or get you particularly aroused unless you suffer from emotional impotence.
However, if one analysed carefully the results of the Brexit referendum you would discover that what drove people to vote for one camp or the other was: generational and geographical conflict, fear of immigration, national identity. This is the stuff people are willing to die for!
In other words the referendum campaign itself was a highly emotional affair. That’s where we had a story. And because the vote had been clearly split along generational lines the conflict between a father and a son made perfect sense. More so if the father had been born in a European country (Holland) and was a leaver. We had material for an emotional journey – 2 polarized characters going against each other with whatever they got.
That’s how it all started.
And after more than 100 performances in Italy and France we are now back in the UK for the second time with a comedy trying to shine a light on reality.
Because oftentimes comedy reveals truth that reality obscures
Brexit is playing on 31 May to 2 June @ Rialto Theatre, Brighton
(link to the show on the Brighton Fringe website)