Writers: Midge and Rosie MullinDirector:
Rosie MullinReviewer: Becca Savory Fuller
The union’s looking shaky on the factory floor at Pollards Pickles. It’s the day of the British EU Referendum, and cousins Len Silver (Nathan Simpson) and Melvyn Gould (Midge Mullin) are caught in the crossfire, as friends and colleagues in the works canteen hold forth about the question on everybody’s lips: “Should we stay or should we go?”
Substance and Shadow takes a light-hearted look at the Brexit debate through the eyes of their much-loved characters, Gould and Silver. The actors deliver a confident performance of these larger-than-life comic cousins, as we follow them through the trials and tribulations of the day. Switching between multiple characters, the actors’ able performances are at their best in the dramatic climax, as they rapidly quick-change back and forth.
Will Gould work up the courage to ask out Magda, the Polish star of canteen cuisine? And how can Silver win the support of heavy-weight union man, Don Beattie, for his upcoming employment hearing? Friendships are teetering over the critical political concerns of the day.
But, like the Government’s Brexit plans, this is a script that’s not sure where it’s going. Gould and Silver lead us through a series of stereotypes, rehashing the old ground of June’s referendum without much subtlety or development. The EU debate – it’s all about bendy bananas, buses, immigrants, and the NHS, right? The supporting characters are presented through predictable clichés, racial stereotypes and some awkward foreign accents.
The tightly-written banter between the cousins raises laughs, and the show offers familiarity and humour, but the topic has been so heavily debated throughout 2016 that it’s not clear what this production wants to add to the conversation. Substance and Shadow is developing a following for their beloved comedy duo but, from this side of the line, the humour doesn’t manage to lift off. In the end, The Brexit Club lacks political bite and leaves both characters and audience divided.
Runs until 9 Feb 2017 | Image: Contributed