Merryville review at Camden People’s Theatre, London – ‘articulate, amusing, angry’
It’s 2020. Theresa May has just won a second term, taking the reins of a Tory-Ukip coalition with Nigel Farage as her Deputy Prime Minister. Jeremy Corbyn has been stabbed in the back (again) by his own MPs. And, following the mysterious murder of Sadiq Khan, London’s housing crisis has spiralled out of control, leaving one last bastion of affordable homes: Merryville, NW1.
This is the nightmarish future that grime MCs Dr Green Fingers (Dominic Garfield) and Dustin Roads (Gerel Falconer) inhabit. Over 70 minutes, they outline what happens between now and then in a series of increasingly fierce political raps, riffing on Brexit, on post-truth politicians, and on the essential diversity of Britain. Think Billy Bragg, if he wasn’t a middle-aged, white Brummie but a pair of young, black North Londoners.
Both Garfield and Falconer are hugely likeable presences. Friendly, funny and frank throughout, they share an irresistible, knockabout charm and an engaging, accessible political anger. Their material varies from the comic – a recreation of the 2016 mayoral election rap battles we all enjoyed – to the uncomfortably serious – a bitter tirade against the suppression of free speech in the name of law and order – but it always bites savagely.
And, somewhat unexpectedly, grime seems a particularly well-suited sound through which to vent this political steam. Not only does its furiously fast pace provide ample scope for satirical wit, but its quintessential London-ness is a powerful reminder of the creative debt our capital owes to its vibrant, persecuted sub-cultures.
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