Interview - Journalist Julie Burchill on why she's written a play in support of Brexit

People Like Us

Theatre’s response to Brexit has been pretty uniform, from musicals poking fun at the political instigators, to plays exploring what it means for the national identity of the country. But two journalists, and hardcore Brexiteers are looking to broaden the debate.

Julie Burchill and Jane Robins make their playwriting debut at the Union Theatre this month with People Like Us, a play about a London book club where the conversation inevitably turns to the subject of leaving the EU. The pair hope the play – which has the tagline ‘A play about sex and Brexit’ - will widen the debate around Brexit.

Ahead of the play’s opening in London, we asked Burchill some questions about the play, why she was driven to write it, and how they tie Brexit and sex together.

People Like Us is at the Union Theatre until 20th October.


 The play is set in a London book club, is it based on real conversations you’ve had about Brexit?

Not me personally, but I’ve known of people who similar things have happened to. Lots of my friends are Remainers, but we don’t bother talking about it. Once you get to a certain age you realise that arguing about a topic never changes people’s minds but, if anything, makes them more entrenched in their misbegotten beliefs.

You hope People Like Us will bring some ‘lively discussion’ around the subject of Brexit, what points of view does the play get across?

I think we present both Leavers and Remainers in quite a vivid, original manner, as distinct individuals with both adorable and awful personality traits - rather than as mere ciphers as so much theatre does when it tackles political issues.

This is your playwriting debut, how did you find the process?

I wrote a short dialogue called How Now Green Cow for the Royal Court - it was a bash at virtue-signallers way back in 1990! That was fun but this was better because when there are two of us, you become a gang and act immaturely. It makes a nice change after decades of sitting in a room staring at a screen pretending to be a grown-up.

London was the area of the country with the lowest percentage of Leave voters, how do you think that might affect the reception of the play?

As Londoners are famous for being bold and open-minded, I’m hoping that the capital’s Remainers might relish having their views challenged, while getting a cracking evening’s entertainment into the bargain.

As Brexiteers, how do you feel the issue is presented in British theatre at the moment?

It’s been a lot of predictable bad-loser bleating. Ours is definitely the best one yet.

Who are you hoping will come and see the piece, and what do you hope they will leave thinking differently about?

Everyoen is welcome, but I’d hope that Remainers might leave understanding that Leavers voted the way they did for legitimate reasons - not because they’re the ignorant led by the evil, as the current somewhat hysterical Remain wisdom has it.

That’s the Brexit side of the play, how on earth does sex come in to it?!

 We have a super-hot cast, so sex couldn’t avoid coming into it! And a Leaver and a Remainer have history in more ways than one…

Why should someone come and see People Like Us?

To laugh, to think, to argue, to live!

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