Throughout the 1970’s, there was a group of young people who felt that the current Conservative government, who were instigating a surge of cuts sought to wreak havoc on a government that did not reflect the views of the younger generation. The Bush Theatre’s production of James Graham’s play, ‘The Angry Brigade’ was an attention grabbing show, but there are elements that entail improvements, then again the performances were really lovely.
‘The Angry Brigade’ is spilt into two parts, the first in the eyes of the police investigators and the second in the views of the brigade. The first act introduces us to the police investigation in the basement of Scotland Yard, where police investigator, DS Smith who has been sent to solve the crime by a collective of frustrated young people who are bombing London’s streets. He along with his fellow police investigators, Morris, Henderson and Parker are strenuously searching for the four people responsible for this act of anarchy. Over the course of the enquiry, it appears that the four known as “The Angry Brigade” have an entire army of associates and we see how the areas of London are linked with one another. DS Smith and his team like a real exploration of crime piece it all together with stings of wool and pins onto the localities of London in the optimism that they can find these miscreants and arrest them accordingly. Additionally, DS Smith creates an interesting method to seek out the four young people; such as listening to rock ‘n’ roll ballads and smoking joints so that they can get into the minds of them. DS Smith receives an anonymous phone call from one of the four members of the gang and in the end DS Smith and his other investigators are informed of their whereabouts. The second act directs us to the attentions of the brigade who are called, Anna, Jim, Hilary and John, who are residing in an unrealistic world where a house should not have walls and that everything must remain open. Jim and Anna, who is a couple, are frustrated by the lack of hopes and dreams that the government are bestowing on young people. But the other couple, John and Hilary are more irate and stoned as they seem to be quite lackadaisical in figuring out their own prospect and worth to society and plan to destroy an important government building, which is increasingly ridiculous as this’ll lead to the wrong outcomes. At the finale, the foursome are located and are as you would expect are arrested and sent to prison for their crimes of terrorist activity and vandalism. Graham’s narrative is decent here as we are given the opportunity to see both sides of the argument, however, there are moments where the amount that is taking place within the play seems far too rushed for one’s liking.
One found the performances by the company of, ‘The Angry Brigade’ to be reasonably well presented with good vocal delivery and movement execution. Mark Arends is fine as DS Smith; especially when he decides to find thought-provoking approaches to search for the four young people where they listen to quite unappealing music and getting stoned on drugs. Harry Melling is charming as somewhat troubled, Jim; chiefly how his good education at one of England’s top universities has impacted on his rage on the system, also he is a naïve individual who is a follower rather than a leader. Pearl Chanda is grand as both Henderson and Anna; principally when Anna seems to be on a journey of self-discovery as a young woman who is aggravated, but she does have a mature side where she calls DS Smith in the hope ha she can be rescued. Lizzy Watts is noble as Parker and Hilary; for example as Hilary you can see that she is always overshadowed by John and ha she really does not have a clear identity and his may be a factor for her reasons to lash out on a society that is uncertain.
James Grieve’s direction is satisfactory here as even though we are taken on a voyage from both sides of the opposition here are moments where he has not been fruitful in fizzling out the glitches in Graham’s script. Lucy Osborne’s design is excellent though as I can see how the transitioning from a bunker to an open plan house has been carefully planned, and the projections, lighting by Charles Balfour and sound by Tom Gibbons have coincided with each other to create a tense and thrilling atmosphere. Overall, the experience of, ‘The Angry Brigade’ was an entertaining one but needed enhancements in places.