It’s not just angry young men any more. They’re all angry – men, women, boys, girls. And with good reason, as Made In Britain, showing at London’s Old Red Lion Theatre, makes apparent. Against a background of sketchy CCTV footage bristling with flashes of urban society Sarah Bryan and James Rallinson play Danny and Nina, two young people disillusioned with the desperate situation in which they find themselves, angry and frustrated at a society which promises so much but fails to deliver on it.
Through alternating monologues we hear their tales, tales of school bullies, fathers they adore and despise, abandonment, and unemployment. Circumstances have not been kind, but their youthful vigour remains through their desire to connect and alter their situation. Directed by Jonathan O’Boyle from the script written by Ella Carmen Greenhill, it is unambiguous and explicit, a message of cynicism and disenchantment at a world where capitalism is king and the struggles of the normal person are forgotten being made very clear. This space in which they speak is the only forum for these voices which have been denied.
Broken relationships, futile jobs, suicide, and the poverty trap are all explored tenderly and robustly, before the two meet at a G8 summit where their problems are reflected and magnified on a global scale. Politics and personal grief are very closely intertwined in this play, where culpability lies in a hazy space somewhere between the individual and the situations in which they find themselves. They don’t believe in politics as an agent for social change, and far from suffering from malaise, they are fuming – but what do they do about it?
Things are not fair – and the play asks how we deal with that, whether acceptance or revenge are the routes to take, or something in between. It doesn’t end prettily, and Danny dying for his beliefs is a profound twist on the stereotypes we have cast on this action, and has us questioning whether all action is useful.
Made In Britain is one of a new season of plays which new artistic director Stewart Pringle has commissioned for the thirty year old pub theatre in Angel. He recently told What’s On Stage that he wants the output to be ‘unpredictable, loud, and constantly surprising.’ On those measures, Made In Britain is a success.