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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.

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

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.

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