Writer: Matthew Greenhough
Director: Jonny Kelly
Reviewer: Deborah Klayman
An important play about the subtleties of far-right radicalisation, Matthew Greenhough’s timely new play examines the experience of disenfranchised working-class men on opposite sides of the political divide. A solo show, underscored by a live trumpeter playing jazz renditions of punk songs, It’ll Be Alt-Right on the Night has a lot to say about the state of the post-Brexit, post-Trump world we find ourselves in.
Childhood friends age 7, Greeny and Stevo are inseparable, doing everything together from discovering punk to protesting Tommy Robinson to travelling round Europe. When a family tragedy ends that journey, the two go in separate directions and develop entirely opposite world views. While Greeny goes on to university, Stevo experiences a lot of loss – a bereavement, the end of a relationship, losing his job. Feeling increasingly abandoned, impoverished and overlooked, he doesn’t understand why he keeps being told he has “privilege”. If liberal views are now the mainstream, is “Conservatism the new punk rock”?
Giving voice to both characters, Greenhough seems far more invested in the role of Stevo, who also has most of the attention in the piece. Presented as a story about political polarism, it seems Greeny’s left leaning is just taken as read, which is not what the piece purports to explore. It is also unfortunate that Greenhough has a tendency to gabble, accompanied by a breathless quality that makes him hard to understand at times.
This is a piece with political punch that offers real insight into the elements that make a person vulnerable to radicalisation. It’ll Be Alt-Right on the Night is certainly a play that challenges those who make sweeping generalisations about the type of people who are on each side of the political divide. Strong writing and well-staged, Greenhough is certainly a playwright to watch.
Runs until 26 August 2019 | Image: Contributed