You can read 9 more articles this month
“NO-ONE ever told me there was so much potassium in a banana,” recalls Tony Benn, to much amusement, as he records his final diary entry.
Though the man himself has been dead for five years and wasn’t prone to recording his innermost thoughts in front of a live audience, this engaging and immersive theatrical conceit, the brainchild of director Andy Barrett and director Giles Croft and based on Benn’s diaries, sees Philip Bretherton don a dressing gown, spark up a pipe and embark upon a remarkable performance as the formidable parliamentarian.
The challenges are obvious. Bretherton is over 20 years Benn’s junior, doesn’t immediately resemble the Labour Party stalwart and has to deliver a monologue, complete with those mellifluous intonations and Bennite mannerisms, for over an hour.
Yet he more than meets the task in just 75 minutes as he takes us on a comprehensive journey through Benn’s life, from his service in the air force during WWII and years as a young and promising MP, to his impassioned speeches against the invasion of Iraq and rather surprising status as a “national treasure.”
Throughout, he speaks directly to three people he loved and who are no longer with him — his mother Margaret, who imbued the young Benn with a keen sense of justice, his brother Mike, who died serving in the RAF in 1944 and his wife Caroline, stricken down with cancer in 2000.
Switching back and forth in time the narrative, thankfully, isn't linear. Connections are made in interesting places and recollections lead to a string of amusing anecdotes and touching memories.
This is a play that’s a reminder of one painful truth. Politicians of Benn’s calibre, integrity and unrepentant conviction are thin on the ground today. Yet while he may no longer be with us, Croft and Bretherton afford the possibility of spending some time in the company of his inspirational spirit.
Runs until April 20, box office: omnibus-clapham.org
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.