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People Like Us
Union Theatre, London
EVER the iconoclast, Julie Burchill has written a play with her friend Jane Robins about what are clearly her favourite subjects — sex, drink and Brexit.
This liberating roll in the hay — complete with full-blown cat-fight — is set in a comfortable north London book club, where relationships rapidly fall apart following the Brexit result on June 23 two years ago, the “glorious 24th,” as we leavers call it.
People Like Us deals in particular with the cultural sector, which indulged in an orgy of hatred, intolerance and bitterness worthy of any McCarthyite witch-hunt, gleefully running down Brexiteers who suddenly found themselves shunned and short of work.
These two writers know about this because it happened to people like them — intelligent, independent-minded and critical dissenters who dared to make a stand and speak up for democracy.
They clearly take cathartic delight in retelling the story of this historical event and how it liberated the minds of millions yet normalised rabid finger-pointing among cultural elites and obscured even what the EU is really about.
For remainers, the EU has become the highest form of civilisation, a lodestar to be fanatically defended at a time when, truth be told, millions across the Continent are increasingly sick and tired of it and would vote “bin it” except, of course, that is not possible.
Unsurprisingly, given the script's provenance, the strongest characters are two women, leavers who are pilloried as narrow-minded racists by bigoted remainers — a metaphor for the political elites who arrogantly and absentmindedly demanded a remain vote to maintain an increasingly rotten status quo.
Yet the majority of voters had dared to reject rule from abroad and chose national independence — that most heinous of crimes, forbidden in the new world order of neoliberal globalisation.
The women rejoice in witnessing this revolution instead of enduring the banality of treading unending corporate water, while laughing at the pomposity of irrational middle class remainers and the proxy tears of their children.
Funny, well observed and revealing, it's a play that deals with an incredibly important political moment that liberal cultural elites would rather pretend didn’t happen — a moment that, as the play points out, turned Guardianistas like Polly Toynbee into dinosaurs overnight.
People Like Us deserves a national tour, but the silent assassins of the culture police who dominate the arts, endlessly promoting the idea that the EU is somehow “progressive,” may have other ideas.
Go see it while you can.
Runs until October 20, box office: uniontheatre.biz
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