Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Edinburgh Fringe - The League of St. George

Skinheads have a certain stereotype; jeans, braces, boots and of course, racist fascism.  
Being Gay just does not fit.

Punk and skinheads may be something associated with 1976 London but Bricks and Mortar Theatre's League of Saint George actually bears more than a striking resemblance to 21st Century Britain.  

There is nothing quiet about this performance and you are hit with that almost walking in the door.

Punk bellows from stage, shouting, screaming excessive overt expressions of masculine identity carefully suppressing anything vaguely feminine.  Its this caveman mentality that sets the scene for the skewed sociology that is to come.

It becomes clear that growing up in this era, in a working class estate with diminished educational achievement and little employment prospects has bred a particular mentality of looking for someone to blame.  In this case, anger vents on local Sikh shop and restaurant owners.

The clever dichotomy of character is thrust into conflict when the lead protagonist - who is also Gay and having secretly declared his love for a handsome Sikh waiter - discovers that it is his lover and his restaurant that is the next target of League.

Although the inner struggle between establishing self identify and submitting to the will of the group carries throughout, other more subtle themes are also explored.  For example, the mother figure - a traditional home maker, assuming the gendered stereotype matching her societal expectation.  The father figure - trying his hardest to be a man, suppressing every public display or affection for his son or his wife - another gendered stereotype explored.

However, there is also the unexpected.  The show demonstrates that fascism has a more acceptable public face than street thuggery portrayed in stereotype.  Its an uncle figure, a family man, middle class, monied, house and family portrait about the fireplace.

This could have been a deliberate insert - a covert inference to Nigel Farage perhaps - with the UK Independence Party (UKIP) as the more socially acceptable, middle class face, of the League today?

Modern day Britain remains full of internal struggle and the sociology of 1970s London can be recognized today.  This is why The League of St. George is so powerful.  It explores modern day struggles, gendered expectations, relationships with family, poverty, the rise of right wing politics in the subtle historic context.

This show is not about just about a Gay Skinhead struggling with his identity.  Its also not purposely described as a Gay show.  The League of Saint George has multiple, complex strands of equality and human rights discourse.  The show has to be highly commended for its educational potential from this point of view.

If you want to see a refection of today's complex, austerity clad Britain mirrored in history, then this one is for you.

The League of Saint George is on at C Venues C- NOVA.  To buy tickets, or to find out more visit the Fringe booking site by clicking here.

To find out more about the show and the Bricks and Mortar Theatre Company, visit their site by clicking here. 

1 comment:

  1. Couldn't agree more with your excellent review - nice to see these kids getting the recognition they deserve for all the huge amount of hard work they have put into this production.