Monday, August 23, 2010

Energetic and Fascinating Revival

Oi for England
Not Too Tame Theatre Company with RWCMD,
Venue 13, Edinburgh Fringe
August 19 - 29, 2010

“Right, f--- it!” Trevor Griffiths' opening line sets the tone for his punchy 1982 one-act play. Skinhead band “Ammunition” has been offered an election night gig for the fine sum of £30. For the four of them, “doleboys “ all, the sum is a fortune. The drama picks at the splits between the band members over what is intended to be a massive Nazi event.

Outside on the Manchester streets gangs of Asians are out for blood in response to an assault on one of their own. As it unwinds Trevor Griffiths’ structure is a writing master class in compression and texture, rounded off with a brilliant and unexpected twist.

“We're for our own kind” may be the motif but the politics of identity are always fissiparous. Just like this month’s falling out within the BNP the band is split by the fact of one of them, Finn, being a mick. Left on his own his relationship with landlord’s daughter Gloria (Jess Hayles) is warm. As shaven-headed and monkey-booted as the others, he has access to a deeper narrative, both musical and historical. He sings to himself the lilting “Raglan Road” (“let grief be a fallen leaf/ at the dawning of the day.”)

Like Eddie Waters, the stand-up veteran in “Comedians”, Finn's grandfather has been present at a concentration camp liberation. Finn knows that Nazi lies are just that. When Griffiths’ climax comes it is cunningly all the more surprising and milked for all its energy by Stephen Bisland.

Anthony Wright Wilson’s character is known only as the Man. Almost lugubrious in his attitude to the band at first he mutates into a maelstrom of menace. His searing speech of loathing of “chocolate England” is without equal.

The text has an occasional reference which is now most likely lost. “Anderton's puffballs” probably does not mean a lot now. (On a personal note I had an encounter once with a couple of them and did not care for it much.) But the play fascinates in depicting just how much has changed in a generation.

The band’s anthem is “Sod the law and pass the ammunition”, or maybe “sod the Lord”. Jack Brown’s Swells drives it on drums and Lewis Reeves' Napper gives it great gritty vocals.

Oi for England is not to going to play a major venue again. Scan the impossibly vast list of Fringe productions and political theatre seems thin to invisible; all credit to Jimmy Fairhurst, assistant director Hannah Jarman, and the company for getting it out and up from Cardiff to Edinburgh.

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset in Theatre in Wales, 19th August, 2010.

This show runs until 29th August 2010, at Venue 13 in Edinburgh. For more details and to book tickets visit The Edinburgh Festival Guide.

The script of Oi for England appears in Theatre Plays Two published by Spokesman Books

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Vanunu update

Dear Friend and Vanunu supporter,

It is a long time since we last sent you any news of Mordechai for which we apologise. It has been a complicated and difficult period particularly with Mordechai not wanting the campaign for his freedom to continue. However, we thought now was the time for an update, because if you hadn't seen the relevant issues of the Morning Star, Scottish Herald or, just this week, The Guardian, you probably wouldn't be fully aware of what Mordechai had been suffering, once again, at the hands of the vindictive and malicious Israeli authorities.

For some while Mordechai has been threatened with a return to prison for speaking with foreigners; including friends, supporters and journalists. For breaking this restriction he was eventually sentenced to six months in prison. He appealed against this and at a hearing of the Supreme Court, some months ago, this sentence was reduced to three months. As an alternative Mordechai was offered to do a period of Community Service in West Jerusalem. Mordechai declined fearing for his safety - we all know he has received a number of death threats - and proposed he work in East Jerusalem, where he has been restricted to live. At his most recent court hearing the authorities refused this compromise and sent Mordechai to Ayalon prison on May 23rd. ( Ayalon is known to be one of the most notorious prisons in Israel, and the section Mordechai was held in was about the most violent).

Mordechai's brother, Meir, reporting on his visit on July 11th said, "He is in a cell by himself 24 hours a day. There are no windows, only a small metal-net crack in the top part of one wall. He is allowed one hours walk in a tiny yard. Shabak - the Israeli security agency - simply threw him into a cell, locked the door and let him suffer there."

Amnesty International reacted quickly, fearing for Mordechai's safety, and declared him a prisoner of conscience and his treatment to be contrary to international law, particularly the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Israel has signed.

Mairead Maguire and the Irish Peace People organised an appeal letter/petition to President Obama and other international leaders for Mordechai's freedom, supported by a large number of celebrities, only one or two papers reported this latest outrage against Mordechai. Then suddenly, without warning, Mordechai was released last Sunday, August 8th, two weeks early. He is now staying at the Ambassador hotel for a few days, supported by his many wellwishers, friends and supporters. We invite you to sign the petition and forward as widely as possible:

On his email auto reply Mordechai declared unbowed, "Hi, this is Vanunu. Today August 8th 2010 I am free from Israel 3 months prison, I survived one more hard life in Israeli prison, in isolation, in Humiliations. I am now staying in Ambassador hotel for a few days until finding my new place, I will be waiting for my total freedom, to be free to leave this jewish state. Thanks you for your support. VMJC. If you wish to email Mordechai his email is still the same:

That's all for now. We hope you will want to be kept on the list for Vanunu updates, but if not let us know by replying to this email, at our new email address: If you know of anyone who would like to be kept in touch please send us their email, and, of course, do forward this update as widely as possible. For the future we can't promise to send out regular updates but we will try to keep you in touch when we can.

For and on behalf of the Campaign for a Nuclear Free Middle East,
our best wishes, Adeline O'Keeffe, David Polden and Ernest Rodker

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Campaign for a Nuclear Free Middle East