Theatre company criticised over ‘insulting’ Cockney-themed immersive experience
A London theatre company has come under fire for mocking working-class culture with a £55-a-head Cockney-themed immersive Christmas supper club.
Zebedee Theatre’s The Cockney’tivity, an immersive dinner experience hosted in “an authentic Hackney pub”, has been branded “utterly crass” by one Twitter user.
The evening, which features three short acts of “hilarious festive drama” and three courses, runs from December 1 to 22 at the North Star in east London.
Zebedee Theatre Company defended the production, arguing that the event is meant to be a celebration of east London culture and they had never meant to cause offence.
Tom Armstrong, editor of contemporary music publication the Move Mag, brought the event to attention on Twitter by sharing a press image for the event showing a pregnant woman smoking.
Just got a PR email about a Cockney themed immersive supper club in an “authentic Hackney pub”. It’s £55. This is one of the press shots. pic.twitter.com/Vws8XpiFu0
— Tom Armstrong (@tomdisco) October 18, 2017
Others tweeted in response, claiming the theme of the event is “fucking insulting” and a “piss-take of working-class London”.
This is fucking insulting. My family are proudly from Stepney and Mile End.
— Decent Clobber (@YesTom) October 18, 2017
— Gary Budden (@gary_budden) October 18, 2017
— Elizabeth Rickett (@Lizrickett) October 19, 2017
One Twitter user said the evening would amount to middle-class people “sneering at the ‘poor Cockneys’”, while another went as far as to call it “a modern-day minstrel show”.
The ‘cockneytivity’ – where middle class people can go for a Christmas dinner while they are entertained by a modern day minstrel show. Ugh. pic.twitter.com/zvGyaIkMOe
— Michaela Costello (@costello_m) October 18, 2017
Middle class kids sneering at the ‘poor cockneys’. Little pricks would’ve been too terrified to be near Hackney 10 years ago!…
— Harry Brooks (@HarryBrooks88) October 19, 2017
Zoe Wellman, co-producer of Zebedee Theatre, apologised for the “misconception of the imagery used to promote the play”, arguing that it did not mirror the experience being offered.
She said: “We wanted to explore the concept of The Cockney’tivity and celebrate east London culture through theatre.
“It was never about class. It’s a play, a parody – it’s comedy. We all grew up watching EastEnders, we love Catherine Tate, Shameless, and all comedians that have inspired us and satirised some of the best parts of British culture.”
She added: “Some of the press photos are of poor taste, we agree. Hindsight is a wonderful thing – it was never our intention to poke fun at a stereotype. These photos have been taken out of context, at face value they give off the wrong impression and they do not represent the play, a lesson we are learning the hard way.”
“Our goal is to produce a night of theatre and food. We definitely did not mean to cause any harm or offence.”