City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Oi! for England Review


By Bill Dunlop - Posted on 18 August 2010

Oi! For England
3
Show details
Venue: 
Venue 13
Company: 
Not Too Tame Theatre Company with RWCMD
Running time: 
50mins
Production: 
James Fairhurst (director), Hanna Jarman (assistant director), Jack Brown (musical director)
Performers: 
Lewis Reeves (Napper), Stephen Bisland (Finn), Jack Brown (Swells), James Fairhurst (Landry), Jess Hayles (Gloria), Anthony Wilson (The Man)

It’s rare for one of the BBC’s "Plays for Today", a sadly defunct manifestation of public service broadcasting, to transfer to the stage. The late Dennis Potter’s Son of Man and Trevor Griffith’s Comedians have both done so successfully, so the prospect of another Griffith offering Oi for England making the transition intrigued this reviewer.

Students of Royal Welsh College have their work cut out with what is one of Griffith’s more thought-provoking plays which is also more firmly rooted in its particular time than Comedians. While the latter looks at class struggle and representation through the world of stand-up comedy, Oi for England is based on the rise of ‘Oi’ bands during the period of Enoch Powell’s Rivers of Blood speech and the growth of Thatcherite Conservatism.

Oi, demonised by the red-top press along with other aspects of reviving working-class culture, was a clear influence on the Punk which largely displaced it. All of which is a lot of cultural commentary to fit into some fifty minutes and the version of Griffith’s script presented here.

The storyline is a direct one, of a band with ambitions brought to acrimony, recrimination and break-up by the intervention of an ugly street politician who wants to use them as fuel for racial disturbance.

The actors do their level best to rise to the challenge, and there are some fine moments, including a loud and proud rendition of the band’s main number, with the line ‘Sod the Lord and pass the ammunition’.

The problem remains of translating Griffith’s then to our now, and the dawning realisation by the four band members that the escape they had hoped for is illusory and the choices they believed were theirs are equally so, could have been delivered more clearly.

Even so, this is a production that still has something to say, and it’s to be hoped that in the frantic traffic which is Edinburgh at Fringe time, audiences pause and give it a hearing.

Show times
17-21 August, 12 noon
22-29 August, 3.30pm

Ticket Prices
£8 (£5)

Wow is all I can say! Very gritty, real, very much enjoyed the performance and would recommend the extra walk to this venue.