Robert Tanitch reviews Albion at Bush Theatre, London W12
Chris Thompson, former social worker and author of Carthage, examines the rise of the new far right in modern-day Britain. “I want,” he says, “to understand people who don’t see the world in the same way as I do.”
Thompson argues we need to address how people feel and think before we admonish them. “We are,” he says, “sometimes too quick to exclude people with views we find uncomfortable rather than addressing what the underlying issue is.”
The main characters in Albion are members of The EPA (English Protection Army). Their leader (Steve John Shepherd) says they are not like the BNP. They insist they are not racists. They are proud patriots who want Britain to be British. They claim they are not extremists but a populist movement who have legitimate concerns about jobs, housing and immigration.
Why should we (argues the leader) value diversity when they don’t value our culture? His deputy is black (Delroy Atkinson). His brother (Tony Clay), who is gay and has an Asian boyfriend (Dharmesh Patel), sings at their meetings.
They are joined by a social worker (Natalie Casey), who was made the scapegoat when the council, fearing they would be accused of intolerance and racism, failed to act when she told them children were being abused.
Trying to make the play more popular, practically every scene is prefaced by a karaoke number. There are too many songs; but Atkinson singing Delilah is undeniably a high spot.