England People Very Nice Paperback
by Richard Bean
Part of the Oberon Modern Plays series
Written with scurrilous bravura, Richard Bean's great sweep of a comedy follows a pair of star-crossed lovers amid cutters' mobs, Papists, Jewish anarchists and radical Islamists across four tempestuous centuries. "Irish and Jewish, that's the worst mix. You end up with a family of drunk burglars run by a clever accountant."
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 124 pages
- Publisher: Oberon Books Ltd
- Publication Date: 01/02/2009
- Category: Plays, playscripts
- ISBN: 9781840029000
Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.
Review by kidzdoc
England People Very Nice opened at the National Theatre in London in February 2009, and ran until early August of that year. I saw it just before it closed, and read the script afterward, which was most helpful, as I missed a number of jokes in the performance due to the heaviness of the actors' accents (cockney, Irish, and Bangladeshi).The setting for the play is a UK immigration detention centre, which is filled with migrants and asylum seekers hoping to obtain leave to remain status there. While waiting there, the inmates decide to write and perform a play, based on four waves of immigration to Bethnal Green, a neighborhood in the East End of London, starting with the French Hugenots in the 16th century, followed by the Irish, Jews, and Bangladeshis. At the beginning of England People Very Nice, the actors and director go through their final rehearsal, and the play as performed by the actors takes up all but a few minutes at the beginning and end of the two acts.The play is a riotous, irreverent and hilarious view of the immigrants by the "native" Londoners in Bethnal Green, and vice versa. The French are portrayed as farting frogs, who wish to pollute English culture with their snobbery and love of sex and cabbage; the Irish keep pigs in their home and have mutant babies after having sex with their siblings ("Don't sleep with strangers; it's dirty!"); the Jews, Bangladeshis and Muslims are similarly skewered. However, the Anglo-Saxons are equally misrepresented, as intolerant, sexually frigid but promiscuous, and vulgar. With each wave there is a love story between the same two actors, with the woman playing a "native" Londoner, whether Anglo-Saxon, Irish or Jewish, who falls in love with the "immigrant" of that particular time. As the immigrants take over Bethnal Green with each wave, the "natives" escape to suburban Redbridge, to pursue their dreams.At the end of the inmates' performance, several members obtain letters indicating that they have been granted or denied "Leave to Remain" status in the UK, providing a sense of reality and solemnity to the end of the play.The play England People Very Nice was most entertaining, and is highly recommended by me if it resurfaces in the UK or abroad. The script in the book does follow completely or nearly identically to the performance; however, it doesn't begin to capture the energy and flavor of the live performance.
Review by traceyhart007
I saw this play at the National Theatre in London in 2009. I saw a lot of plays that I don't remember but this was beautiful. It is a history of prejudices and politics throuhgout time. I love it because in each case it is always the same discrimination just with different groups of people. Because of the discrimination the a couple is kept apart, though they love each other in each time period. The main actress was fantasitc!