The Brexit Club – Remote Goat
Substance & Shadow’s latest – The Brexit Club – played to a sizable, super-receptive audience at Exeter’s Cygnet Theatre yesterday evening. From the laughter and appreciative comments it seemed that many were thoroughly entertained.
It is puzzling to understand why or how. This show was dreamt up following the rocky horrors of June 2016 in Cameron’s (that man has a lot to answer for) Britain. Perhaps Brexit Club is purely polemical – a satirical attempt to undermine democracy…? Or maybe the anger, depression and confusion that hit the Remainian community post-referendum provoked creative processes…? Whatever its roots this show is well past its best before guidelines. The Brexit Club is chock full of food themes – maybe it would have been best consumed within 5 days of opening.
So, what do you get? Two performers – Midge Mullin and Nathan Simpson – with plenty of skills between them, telling a story about decision-making and democracy, trying to explore how what was unthinkable for some actually happened. The performers also devised and wrote the piece, along with Rosie Mullin who also directed, provided female voices and did the lighting. The Brexit Club is set against a backdrop of a midlands pickle factory – presumably for its multicultural credentials. It is June 2016 referendum time – the lead up and the aftermath. The latter being far more interesting. Perhaps a serious edit of the pre-result section and an expansion of the morning after might have made for a show with greater shelf life. And greater comedic potential.
Well this is a comedy – of sorts. There is a sad man, a skiver, a bully and a non-white Brit. There are unions, sick elderly relatives, ultra right wingers, fantasy EU diktats and foodstuffs from all parts of the globe converging onto this little corner of England. With overtones of Reggie Perrin, Alf Garnett and Citizen Khan it ought to be hilarious. Sadly, it misses. And the reasons why? Too much lazy reliance on offensive stereotypes and unenlightening clichés.
There is some light relief – a peppering of neat one-liners, a brave rendition of a bastardised Jerusalem and the bouncy castle scene. Also, good to see a west country artistic response to the Brexiteers – Exeter being the only place west of Bristol to vote REMAIN in the heady days of June 2016.
Anna Marks – 3 stars