Writer: Ben Standish
Director: Felicity Chilver
Reviewer: Tom Ralphs
Working Class Hero takes its title from a John Lennon song. The song is about working class people processed into a middle class machine, hated for being clever and despised for being fools. Lennon himself was seen as a working class hero, and that’s the starting point for this play.
The play consists of ten scenes set over 100 days as a son visits his father during his first year at University. The father is proudly working class and a big Lennon fan. The son is doing a business studies course and doesn’t really know who Lennon was. He does however know who Akala is. For anyone who doesn’t know, he’s an English rapper, poet and political activist.
In the opening scenes of the play there are the typical stereotypical clashes between father and son as neither gets the other’s choice of music, and father ribs son about his moustache and his possible girlfriend. As the play progresses, they come to understand each other’s choice in music while Arsenal FC, the other tie that binds them, are going through a bad season and in danger of losing their claim to be the only team to go a whole season unbeaten in the Premiership.
Politics and music run through the play and there are some interesting observations that show that while political music has evolved since Lennon’s time the fundamentals remain the same. As a subject for a thesis it would be great, but for a play it needs something more.
The football aspect of the play doesn’t really provide this and neither of the characters ever get beyond the stereotypes and clichés they embody. The play doesn’t feel like it has anything to say that hasn’t been said several hundred times before, and while its inoffensive enough it’s a long way away from the incisive political lyricism of Lennon or Akala.
Runs until 24 August 2018 (not every day) | Image: Edward Marriott