Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
24 March 2010

Up close and visceral with the BNP

A Day at the Racists heads for Barking.

By Jon Bernstein

A diary date for those of you who like their theatre politically charged. A Day at the Racists — which imagines a fictitious BNP election campaign in the very real Barking constituency where Nick Griffin will soon be standing — will be playing for one night only in, yes, Barking. On 16 April. During the election campaign. Somebody knows something about timing.

The play — currently finishing a run at the Finborough Theatre, just off the Brompton Road — has had very respectable reviews from Michael Billington of the Guardian and in the Independent, too.

The play features a British Asian wannabe BNP MP and a former Union man — scar on his cheek from a violent confrontation with the National Front back in the 1970s — as her campaign manager. Both are broadly sympathetic characters, ambivalence guaranteed.

Granted, it’s a stretch to imagine this smart, self-aware woman choosing to represent the British National Party, but once you are past that, it’s a compelling watch that benefits from an intimate space and being played in the round.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

It’s also full of good lines. Among them is this one, on how playing the race card is like erotic films:

Content from our partners
Railways must adapt to how we live now
“I learn something new on every trip"
How data can help revive our high streets in the age of online shopping

You know what they want, they want the naughty stuff. But you don’t give them what they want, not upfront. You hint at it, you suggest it, but you don’t give it to them until they’re gagging for it, then . . . bang.

“A Day at the Racists” by Anders Lustgarten is at the Finborough Theatre, London SW10, until 27 March.

Follow the New Statesman team on Twitter.