Against a backdrop of Tory cuts, high unemployment and the deregulated economy of 1970s Britain, a young urban guerrilla group mobilises. New Theatre presents James Graham’s heart-stopping thriller, The Angry Brigade in an Australian premiere season from 1 October 2019.
The Angry Brigade was a small cell of left-wing, anti-elitist urban guerrillas in 1970s Britain. They emerged in a society blighted by government cuts, high unemployment, austerity measures and deregulation, at a time of global political and cultural upheaval: riots and revolutions, the black-power and women’s lib movements, protests against the war in Vietnam.
Carrying out a series of bombings that targeted property rather than people, they attacked high-profile symbols of the ‘class enemy’ – the Embassies of far-right regimes, the homes of Conservative MPs, banks, police stations – even the BBC’s outside broadcast unit covering the Miss World pageant.
Blending fact and fiction, this comedy-thriller focuses on the opposing sides of the conflict. In a basement office at Scotland Yard, four police officers are trying to work out who’s blowing up high-profile targets. In a filthy squat in north London, four young anarchists are plotting the revolution. But perspectives shift and change with unexpected outcomes.
This smart and funny look at political activism poses a question that is both topical and relevant: when does one person’s freedom fighter become another person’s terrorist? And what is the tipping point that turns anger into armed protest?
Neither a history play nor a biopic, it rather sheds light on our contemporary times, with many social, economic and political similarities between the two periods, and investigates with ironic wit and humour the nature of protest, of anger and of political discontent.
“I was immediately pulled by James Graham’s play” says director Alex Bryant-Smith. “As a millennial, the chance to examine the Boomers at the same stage in life as I find myself has been intriguing. The frustration of having to play by a set of rules not designed to benefit you permeates the world of the play.”
“How ironic that some of those who championed the cause in the late 60s and into the 70s are the ones who now have a property portfolio and healthy super funds, whilst my generation, many with tertiary educations, are stuck in overpriced rental stock, working in the gig economy, pushed ever further out by the march of gentrification.”
“Kind of makes you want to blow it up or burn it down, or at least whinge on Facebook and share anti-Establishment memes on Instagram,” added Bryant-Smith.
Bryant-Smith was most recently Assistant Director on August: Osage County, and directed Next Lesson as part of New Theatre’s program for Sydney Fringe Festival in 2018. Earlier this year, he was Assistant Director on, the sold-out production of The Cripple of Inishmaan at the Old Fitz.
The Angry Brigade features Sonya Kerr (Next Lesson, August: Osage County), Nicholas Papdemetriou (Laughter on the 23rd Floor), and Madeleine Withington (The School for Scandal) – plus making their New Theatre debuts Kelly Robinson, recent WAAPA graduates Will Bartolo and Benjamin Russell, and English actor Davey Seagle who trained at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.
James Graham is a multi award-winning playwright and screenwriter. His play This House gained critical acclaim, enjoyed a sell-out run at the National Theatre’s Olivier in 2013 and its 2017 West End revival was Olivier-nominated. It was chosen by popular vote as the best play of the 2010’s by Methuen Drama.
James created theatre history when his two plays Ink, about the early days of Rupert Murdoch, and Labour of Love, a romantic political comedy, played in theatres next to each other in the West End in 2017. James won an Olivier award in 2018 for Labour of Love and Ink transferred to Broadway in 2019, receiving six Tony award nominations.
James’ play The Vote (Donmar Warehouse) aired in real time on TV in the final 90 minutes of the 2015 polling day and was BAFTA-nominated. His most recent television film, Brexit: An Uncivil War (Channel 4/HBO) was nominated for a 2019 Emmy Award.
Director: Alex Bryant-Smith Featuring: Will Bartolo, Sonya Kerr, Nicholas Papademetriou, Kelly Robinson, Benjamin Russell, Davey Seagle, Madeleine Withington Set & Costume Designer: Sallyanne Facer Sound Designer: Glenn Braithwaite Visual Designer: Andrew Langcake Voice & Dialect Coach: Amanda Stephens Lee Assistant Director & Production Manager: Mark G Nagle Stage Managers: Isabella Milkovitsch, Isabelle Nader
The Angry Brigade
New Theatre, 542 King Street, Newtown
Season: 3 October – 2 November 2019 (previews: 1 & 2 October)
Information and Bookings: www.newtheatre.org.au
Image: The Angry Brigade – photo by