No Milk for the Foxes
The first of Camden People’s Theatre’s The State We’re In season of political work, or as artistic director Brian Logan joked on press night, their “heroic effort to kick the Tories out”, is a passionate, political hip-hop inspired work from beatboxer Conrad Murray and spoken word artist Paul Cree.
Emerging from working-class backgrounds, Murray and Cree met through the Battersea Arts Centre’s young people’s scheme, noticing a lack of art being made that related to their lives. They play zero-hours security guards whiling away a night shift, who drop into discussions of whether their shoddy hours and mindless work is a symptom of a political system that stagnates aspirations of the working class.
It’s not overly-partisan: Cree’s character Mark, hopeful that working hard will reap rewards for him and his pregnant partner, appears a would-be trade unionist, while Murray’s Sparx, the more cynical of the two, tends towards working-class Tory. But neither is politically secure – they just know for the underclass, the “foxes”, the situation’s not right.
Cree and Murray are not natural actors, but they are natural on stage, and their beatbox interludes scattered through the play are the production’s clear highlights. Their vernacular is raw and authentic (“They know what the cost is/But not what the loss”), and their deadpan humour is bang on.
There is also a very funny potshot at London theatre-types – Mark feels uneasy on one visit when he sees hipsters in the theatre bar drinking “beer out of jam jars”. If we’re going to save working-class theatre, maybe it’s out with the cordials, and in with some old-fashioned bitter.
Special spoken word events follow after selected performances.