19 Tory St, Wellington

15/10/2015 - 25/10/2015

Production Details

A bold new play by James Graham 

“You can say it. You can be cross. You might, might even go as far as to say you…. that you were angry. Are you angry?”

Against a backdrop of high unemployment, dissenting youth and the deregulated economy of 1970s Britain, a young urban guerrilla group mobilises: The Angry Brigade. Their targets: MPs. Embassies. Police. Pageant Queens.

As a special police squad goes down the rabbit hole in chase of the home-grown terrorists both groups are forced to look in the mirror and question their own ideologies; the rules have changed. An uprising has begun. No one is exempt.

Performed in a shared community space by an independent collective of artists, the New Zealand premiere of James Graham’s highly acclaimed thriller lures you into a frenzied world of poor theatre and hard boiled detectives. Based on the true story of The Angry Brigade, come join us on the anarchistic outskirts. 

In a world where we often feel isolated, lonely and unsupported by the constructs our upbringings told us we could lean on, what ideology do we look to for relief?

We are rolling into our mid-twenties, looking for jobs, for love, for a home – and yet we struggle in a crushed job market. A house of our own is forever out of reach. We live lives neither held by a system, nor in political revolt.

So this play is our small act of rebellion, our attempt to wake ourselves up, to chase the ideals of the Angry Brigade. Come, join our revolution, join the war that will not be fought with bombs but with ideas.  

Performed at 19 Tory Street,
8.30pm (90 mins inc interval),
15, 17, 18, 22, 23, 24, 25 Oct.
Pay what you can afford: $10/$15/$20.
Koha performances on 17 & 25 Oct 

“Memorably adventurous…a timeless depiction of young people agitating against a world that appears to exclude them.”  ★★★★ The Times

“An explosive account of ideological war… what emerges is a world with chilling similarities to our own.”  ★★★★ The Guardian

Patrick Carroll – Smith/John
Comfrey Sanders – Henderson/Anna
Andrew Patterson – Morris/Jim
Karin McCracken – Parker/Hillary

Samuel Phillips – Direction
Harriet Denby – Costume
Rowan McShane – Lighting
William Duignan – Publicity   

Theatre ,

Deserves a longer season and tour

Review by Maraea Rakuraku 18th Oct 2015

It’s been a while since I’ve seen something that has such direct relevance to world events as they are happening right now. As conflicts flourish and the east and west collide so violently in ideology and practice, The Angry Brigade – which only premiered in 2014, at England’s Theatre Royal, Plymouth – is well worthy of the momentum it builds internationally. I hope this Samuel Phillips-directed production will also build nationally.

It seems the British playwright James Graham, who I had never heard of prior to attending this, is what Dean Parker is to us: an intelligent, prolific, political commentator.

Entry into the world of The Angry Brigade is immediate. The saturated colour-palate, dull lighting and minimal set design gives it an initial Gliding On feel. A middle-age-spread, blue-cardied, slightly pompous, tea-drinking copper, Superintendent (Andrew Patterson; the character isn’t credited with a name) waxes lyrically, and somewhat sinisterly about recent bombings in 1970s London claimed by The Angry Brigade. This is directed at a rather idealistic and to his delight, newly-promoted Detective Sergeant Smith (Patrick Carroll) who reminds me so much of a former work colleague in his mannerisms and dress, it’s slightly disorienting especially, as this stage version is far more likeable.

This is a recruiting (just like in The Wire: best cop show ever) for a surveillance team (that still exists today, according to Google) in Scotland Yard to bring the culprits to justice; to address what happens when the threat is ‘within’. Smith is joined by Henderson (Comfrey Sanders), Parker (Karin McCracken) and Morris (Andrew Patterson).

And so it begins: a testing of individual belief and pedagogy, and a learning/ revolutionising as such (though this is never fully explored) as the unit attempts to get into the minds of the terrorists because, as Smith declares, “These terrorists are young, homegrown, first of their kind and driven by an idea and I don’t know how to capture an idea.” 

The age old cat and mouse chase ensues. The coppers are closing in on the suspects and then boom. Lights up. INTERMISSION! I groan.

Ten minutes later it’s all explained with a set change because now we see the perspective of the mice: The Angry Brigade.

Again, there is a doubling up of roles amongst the cast with accompanying accent and wardrobe changes. Gotta say though, it’s Patterson who seems to be able to bust them out and their persona effortlessly with a couple of extra fast transitions. Nevertheless, I feel like I am witnessing the development of what will be truly fine actors here. They all hold their own perfectly.

I find the second half a little looser and laboured than the first half. There is just so much to get through, dialogue-, relationship- and story-wise. But when it draws to a close, it happens tidily.

In the production notes (which are given post performance) I read up on the playwright’s meteoric rise and obvious kick-arse talent. I’ll say. I’d say the same of Samuel Phillips who, I’m not surprised to learn, has already won a Chapman Tripp Theatre Award for direction. He is most definitely someone to watch and support in development (hint: support financially). There are clever and surprisingly subtle choices that just make this a joy to watch.

I am guessing for any actor cast in a production of the Angry Parade, the dialogue is the kind of meaty stuff you relish. Comfrey Sanders (Anna) in particular is fantastically saucy in the delivery of one scene.

The 17 Tory Street venue in Wellington is the space where a work like this should show, given its social justice leanings. However (I am guessing here) the financial securing of the rights to this work and the pay-what-you-can-afford model means that it is partially driven by fiscal realities. If that’s the case, this work deserves a supported longer season at an established theatre and a tour. In a country that prides itself upon our social justice whakapapa, seeing something like this just may reflect to us just how much we have lost our way. 

I didn’t make the planned opening night of this on October 15. Had I, it wouldn’t have escaped me the relevance of this work and how it sits, in Aotearoa, at this time and eight years after the 2007 raids in Te Urewera saw the testing of the Terrorism Suppression Act. 


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council