The Angry Brigade By James Graham
Dir: James Grieve
Paines Plough / Theatre Royal Plymouth
Warwick Arts Centre
14-17 October 2014
The 1970s were a turbulent time in British politics. The notion of resistance to authority was rife. The establishment was rotten.
But unlike now, there seemed to be alternatives.
Marxism had meaning: workers could recognise themselves as workers. The Vietnam War galvanised a whole generation across the world.
Ideas weren’t lifestyle choices to be swapped as the mood dictated: they mattered. For a while.
For some who questioned the status quo, direct action was the only appropriate response.
The Angry Brigade caught the British imagination by planting bombs and by upstaging key events.
They tried to draw attention to themselves and to the hopeless nature of complicity that they saw around them.
Their message, that the political system always favours the rich and the powerful and cannot be changed from within, resonates today.
The trouble is, we don’t have the alternatives that once gave hope. We have replaced politics with shopping.
This brilliant play recounts the days in which the Angry Brigade was seen as a threat.
It tells the story from two perspectives: that of the police and that of the Brigade. The police are not PC Plod; the Brigade are not mad fanatics. They plant bombs, but they try not to hurt people.
They are disenchanted, but they have something to be disenchanted about.
The police, like bewildered parents, try desperately to understand them, if only to stop them.
There are real human relationships at work on each side. It is often very funny, but its point is deadly serious.
By Nick Le Mesurier