Opened 11 Feb 2009
Written: by Richard Bean
Directed: Nicholas Hytner
Produced: by National Theatre
Synopsis: A journey through four waves of immigration from the 17th century to today. As the French Huguenots, the Irish, the Jews and the Bangladeshis in turn enter the chaotic world of Bethnal Green, each new influx provokes a surge of violent protest over housing, jobs, religion and culture. And the emerging pattern shows that white flight and anxiety over integration are anything but new.
What the popular press had to say.....
NICHOLAS DE JONGH for THE EVENING STANDARD says, "Bean’s play, although factually based, is not liberal, humane or interesting in its continual, wisecracking jocularity. It lacks the smack of conflict and avoids intellectual argument. It appears intent upon defaming refugees to England in terms of the malevolent stereotypes and caricatures you find in The Sun." CHARLES SPENCER for THE DAILY TELEGRAPH says, "With great panache he has come up with an epic drama, inspired by the city comedies of the Jacobean era, which seems even-handedly determined to cause maximum offence to everyone...Beyond the often cheap, though disgracefully funny, jokes, there is wisdom and humanity in this play." MICHAEL BILLINGTON for THE GUARDIAN says, " I generally admire Richard Bean...But his new work, dealing with the impact of four centuries of immigration on Bethnal Green, leaves a sour taste in the mouth. Far from rejoicing in London's ethnic diversity, it manipulates a series of comic stereotypes like a misanthropic 1066 And All That...the abiding impression is that Bean doesn't think much of our modern multiculturalism." BENEDICT NIGHTINGALE for THE TIMES says, "Who would think that unsexy subject, waves of immigration to Bethnal Green, could generate as much enjoyable ebullience as it does in Richard Bean’s new play?" WILLIAM McEVOY for THE STAGE says, "Hilarious, irreverent, caricatural and crude."
Production photos by Johan Persson