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Thoughts and production photos: The Angry Brigade at the Bush Theatre this time

Harry Melling and Mark Arends in The Angry Brigade ∏Manuel Harlan
Harry Melling and Mark Arends in Angry Brigade at the Bush Theatre. Photo Manuel Harlan

Saw The Angry Brigade at the Watford Palace Theatre last Autumn and it's found it's way to the Bush Theatre with Harry Melling returning and three new actors taking the other parts.

It's the story of Britain's answer to the Baader Meinhof and 1st of May guerilla groups in the 1970s and the police efforts to unmask them. You can read more detail about the play itself and my thoughts in the Watford review, the second viewing is a bit of a clue as to how much I enjoyed it, but I was also curious how it would change in a different theatre space.

Watford is an old theatre, a very formal setting for a play that has anarchy at its heart. The Bush has a flexible studio space allowing more freedom.

In the first half when the story follows the police the action is appropriately contained within the marked performance space but when it turns to the Angry Brigade themselves in the second half it is a different matter.

The audience is sat on three sides, slightly raised from the main performance space which has a walkway sized shelf around it. "Please keep bags and feet behind the rail," those of us on the front row were instructed and yes at one point Harry Melling was lying at my feet.

There are multiple entry points which the 'Brigade' made the most of. Actors often appearing behind the audience or sitting in a seat at the back. It can have quite a startling effect particularly when the filing cabinet 'bombs' start going off.  It all adds to the atmosphere although I must admit that it felt just a little bit more rebellious watching it from a red velvet upholstered seat in a traditional theatre.

Back in the Autumn I thought the themes of the 1970s set play was as pertinent today and just over six months on with a general election under our belts it is ever more so. There is a speech lambasting the Tories (and also Labour) which could have come straight from the mouths of the protestors that descended on Whitehall last Saturday.

Harry Melling was another reason for my return visit. Always enjoy seeing him on stage and he's been busy in between times with his self-penned one man show Peddling. He was on biscuit dunking fine form working his way through several different characters during the play. He said in this interview that he found it quite difficult at first and worried about convincing in each character but he needn't worry.

Angry Brigade has arrived at the Bush with its playful provocativeness, its wit, humour and politics and I enjoyed it all over again. Click on the slide show to see all the production photos or head over to Flickr.

 

 

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