Wednesday, 29 July 2009

England People Very Nice


We went to the theatre (National Theatre, Olivier auditorium) during last weekend's trip to London. England People Very Nice by Richard Bean, an episodic play about waves of immigration into the Whitechapel district and their effects on the locals, was entertaining and very well staged. I particularly liked the lighting effects, the projection of different settings and animations onto the basic box set. The performances were also uniformly good. The play itself was a bit more questionable, throwing out mixed messages. In the early stages - about the Irish and the Jews - it was "the poor, abused immigrants" but then the issue was thoroughly confused by the story of the Islamic militants and the Somalis who are given accommodation (according to the play, the tabloids etc.) ahead of the indigenous population.

Of course, this is a controversial area. If the tabloid newspapers are to be believed, there is a widespread perception that Britain is a "soft touch" when it comes to immigration, and that thousands of people make their way here because they believe they can claim benefits, and because the country's record on expelling illegal immigrants is poor. Whether it's accurate or not, the Government needs to address this feeling and it seems it isn't successfully doing so.

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