LONDON: Friends shunned, lovers torn apart and emotions exploding: a new play running in London this month tackles the very personal divisions in British society caused by Brexit.
“People Like Us”, a tragi-comedy by the columnist Julie Burchill and novelist Jane Robins, asks whether it is possible to stay friends with people who hold opposing views.
The play was sparked by what the Brexit-backing writers felt was a social outcasting of Leave voters by more vocal, self-righteous Remainers — particularly in the fervently pro-EU London artsy circles.
“It’s what they call projection. Everything they accuse us of, they are: a small, monocultural clique,” Burchill, 59, told AFP.
“They call us bigots — but they won’t listen to us for a second!
“By projecting all their sins onto us, they are cleansed.”
Robins, 60, said she was invited to several Christmas parties in 2016, six months after the Brexit vote — and avoided the lot.
“I knew they would all be so miserable. Christmas wakes,” she told AFP. “Every single one was going to be Remainers moaning in despair — and they would look at me as the one to be blamed.”
Burchill’s stinging columns about Remainers’ “pathetic petulance” and the social backlash aimed at Leavers chimed with Robins. The two met via a mutual friend — and set about penning a drama.
They found rich inspiration in the aftermath of the referendum.
The vote was bitterly contested and led to relationship breakdowns, friends falling out and even inter-generational conflict between Leave-voting children and Remain-voting parents.
“People Like Us” centres on five friends in a book group and takes place around the 2016 Brexit referendum.
It features pompous Ralph, his self-righteous French girlfriend Clemence, fence-sitting eternal optimist Will, judgemental minx Stacey and her no-nonsense, wine-guzzling friend Frances.
Ralph, Stacey and Will are old mates from Oxford University. Ralph, Clemence and Will are Remainers, while Stacey and Frances are Leavers.
The setting is Ralph’s flat in Islington: the north London epicentre of right-on thinking.
The book group’s first monthly meeting takes place just before the Brexit vote and tensions are beginning to stir.
But afterwards, divisions surface and emotions boil over.
Ralph is consumed by “numbing, excruciating grief; with a top note of despair”, while for Stacey, Brexit was “a revolution I could witness” and the first thing that “actually made me feel something”.
The sniping from both sides culminates in a catfight. The book group breaks up, each side unable to bear the other’s attitude.
Though pegged around Brexit, the drawing-room comedy focuses on the boundaries of modern friendship.
“Now it’s like a mob mentality,” said Robins.
“Because we voted for Brexit, they think we’re evil.
“Brexit derangement syndrome is a real thing.
“What the hell’s happened to our society that we can’t be friends with people any more because of this vote? It’s bizarre.”
The play, which runs until October 20 at the 70-seat Union Theatre, sold out before it opened — much to the writers’ surprise.
Given the Remain-dominated atmosphere in the London arts world, they doubted the play would even get put on – and were prepared to stage it in the back room of a pub.
Now the writers hope to transfer to a bigger London theatre and take the play to the Brexit heartlands.
Robins said: “We really hope that people come who don’t generally go to the theatre because it’s alienating for them.”
Shabana Azmi, Javed Akhtar welcomed in Pk.
LAHORE: Provincial Minister for Information and Culture Fayyaz ul Hassan Chohan today said the current visit of noted Indian poet Javed Akhtar along with his film star wife Shabana Azmi to Pakistan would open new doors of peace for Pak-India relationships.
In a meeting with Indian celebrity couple here on Friday, he said: “Pakistanis are the most peaceful and loving people and Pakistan, indeed, has fought on front-line in the war against terrorism”.
Chohan said that both neighboring countries should work together in the areas of art to promote harmony and peace in the region.
On this occasion, Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar said that they were overwhelmed by the warm welcome which had been given to them by the people of Pakistan.
“We will never forget the love and respect which we get during the visit”, they added.
IHC turns down plea seeking ban on Donkey King release!
ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Friday dismissed the maintainability of a petition seeking a ban on the release of the film ‘The Donkey King’.
IHC judge Justice Aamer Farooq announced its judgment that was earlier reserved after an initial hearing on the petition.
The petitioner had sought a ban on the animated film and stated that it was ‘humiliating’ towards the Raja caste. At first, the IHC reserved its verdict on whether the petition is maintainable or not and then dismissed it.
American theatres: Villain ‘Venom’ is box office hero!
LOS ANGELES: Superhero blockbuster “Venom” saved the day at the North American box office this weekend, pulling in an estimated $80 million in ticket sales, industry tracker Exhibitor Relations reported Sunday.
The film, the official launch of Sony’s Marvel Universe, stars Tom Hardy as a journalist who becomes the host for an alien symbiote that gives him superpowers.
The character is a villain in the “Spider-Man” comic book world. Despite being panned by critics, the movie comfortably broke the October opening weekend record by more than $20 million, according to Box Office Mojo figures.
In second place was another new release, musical romance “A Star Is Born,” which took in $41.25 million. The third remake of the 1937 film of the same name, it marks the directing debut of Bradley Cooper, who stars as a musician who discovers and falls in love with a young singer played by pop superstar Lady Gaga.
Third place went to Warner Bros.’s “Smallfoot,” with earnings of $14.9 million in its second weekend. The comic family animation tells the story of a group of Yeti who come across a human, with voicing by Channing Tatum, LeBron James, and Danny DeVito.
Coming in fourth was last weekend’s champion, Universal’s “Night School,” whose earnings dropped nearly $16 million to $12.3 million this weekend.
The raucous comedy stars Kevin Hart as one student in a class of misfits working toward high school diplomas under the firm tutelage of Tiffany Haddish.
Fifth place went to Universal’s family-friendly offering “The House With a Clock in Its Walls,” which slipped from third place last weekend with takings of $7.3 million.
Rounding out this weekend’s top 10 were:
“A Simple Favor” ($3.4 million)
“The Nun” ($2.6 million)
“Hell Fest” ($2.1 million)
“Crazy Rich Asians” ($2.1 million)
“The Predator” ($900,000)