REVIEW: A Very Brexit Musical
Can Brexit stand between the lovers?
A Very Brexit Musical is an original student-written musical caricaturing Brexit, which shows that the young are critical, politically reflexive, but can also have a laugh at their own expense. The play, created by Molly Cook and Anthony Gray, provides an entertaining reflection on last year's events, and points out the absurdity of our present by enlarging the extremities of the referendum. However, it doesn’t take itself seriously – it acts as if it were a tabloid newspaper.
Of course, there is a love story at the heart of the plot, which has to survive the storms of history. Peter (Rory Russell) is a pro-Remain journalist, while his love, Jen (Serena Macmillan) is a pro-Leave writer working for the same Brexit-supporting paper, the Maily Day. Can Brexit stand between the lovers? It seems so, and not only through strict immigration control.
Besides Peter’s inner struggles, we got a funny insight into the daily routine of high politics as well. Cavid Dameron (Luke Dell), keeping his piglet under his arms as a discrete Cambridge inside joke, was drowning in self-pity so realistically that I almost forgave him for initiating the referendum.
Mheresa Tay (Phoebe Schenk) had a notably outstanding vocal tone; her strong, silky, low voice perfectly matched her songs. (Her memorable solo was reminiscent of All that Jazz – she'd do well as Velma Kelly in Chicago.) Blunt and sarcastic, she reveals the dirty little secrets going on behind the closed doors of 10 Downing Street.
Joris Bohnson (Freddie Raymond) and Figel Narage (Thomas Greig) made a brilliant pair. Although the original inspiring figure is not far from being ludicrous either, Raymond’s burlesque-like Joris Bohnson was hilarious with his visibility vest, helmet and basket rolling over the stage on his scooter. Compared to him, Thomas Grieg’s cold, elegant rigidity fit so well with the James Bond theme played in the background that it seems he'd do well in Daniel Craig's shoes.
Regarding the supporting roles, Katie-Lou White and Martha O'Neil were rather stronger in the comic sketches than in singing, while Rebecca Ebner-Landy’s striking voice knew no borders. Or border control.
The hop-on hop-off style campaign bus, where the orchestra was seated, is a resourceful stage design. The set is dominated by red and blue, so you almost feel like being embroidered into a Union Jack. The music, composed primarily of jazz band and wind orchestra, is about what you'd expect, but I would never have expected to hum the “Brexit” refrain for hours after the play. It is smart how smoothly the music incorporates very British melodies, such as the bells of Big Ben. The songs aren't ground-breaking, but I would love to have some of them on my Spotify.
The Very Brexit Musical is an intelligent, balanced, and funny play with good music and an enthusiastic cast. However, not all of the play is played for laughs. The last words after two hours of having fun are heartbreaking. The play finishes with the original record of David Dimbleby announcing on the BBC the words 'We're Out.'