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January 9, 2011

New Richard Bean play

by Val Reynolds
The Heretic logo

The Heretic logo

A new Richard Bean play will shortly be opening at the Royal Court Theatre in Sloane Square.  The Heretic is an interesting take on the climate change debate.

The last Richard Bean production I watched certainly courted controversy. England People Very Nice was a rumbustious romp with a cast of hundreds of all colours, shapes and sizes Bean traces the lives of waves of immigrants to London’s Bethnal Green, from the Huguenots, the Irish, the Jews to the Bangladeshis.

Newspaper critics were utterly divided on the play’s merit.  The Guardian and the Indie were less than impressed, calling it stereotypical and racist, amongst other comments.  Charles Spencer in the Telegraph loved it, and the Jewish Chronicle thought the idea of eating bacon sandwiches outside a synagogue on the day of Atonement hilarious!
It is a satire (a comment on TV called it the satire of Alf Garnett, and indeed one of the characters sports a West Ham scarf) and is cleverly helped along by using the play within a play device – the actors playing the actors are in a detention centre, waiting to hear if they have been granted permission to become British immigrants themselves.
What did I think?  I thoroughly enjoyed it!
Jeannette Nelson, Arts Critic
Jeannette is a bit of a culture vulture who enjoys art exhibitions, cinema and classical music, but her main interest is the theatre. For several years she ran theatre discussion groups for which her MA in Modern Drama together with teaching skills stood her in good stead. She prefers to concentrate on the many off West End and fringe productions as well as that real treasure of the London theatre scene, the National.

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