Review: League of Saint George

league-of-st-george_32861League of St George
Category     Theatre
Genres     drama, music
Group     Bricks and Mortar Theatre Company with The King’s Head Theatre
Venue     C venues – C nova ​
Event Website
Date     8-26 August
Time     21:55
Duration     1 hour
Suitability     14+
Country of Origin     England




Right from the off this show confronts you. It starts with an explosion of live music performed in front of a large St. George’s cross. The skinheads in the cast are rowdy, full of energy, aggressive and angry.  They take us back to the days when the strong skinhead identity was a source of pride and belonging to some and fear to others.

Set in 1970s East London ‘League of St George’ tells the story of Adam (Oliver Tunstall) a Skinhead trying to come to terms with being gay within a sub-culture which is hyper-masculine and would be far from understanding of his sexuality. Worse still he chooses a partner from another race! Not safe choices for Adam given the company he keeps.His friends Mark and Jimmy are crude about the women around them and mock Adam over his inexperience and lack of a girlfriend.

Adam has trouble with his sexuality. He conceals it from his friends and family and even within his relationship wants to avoid issues it raises by not talking about it. His boyfriend is more open and makes it clear that part of why he is attracted to Adam is the ‘danger’ and his bad boy image. The first time they meet he kisses Adam’s boots – a scene which some might find uncomfortable and non-‘PC’ but which is direct and honest.

This isn’t a preachy play. It doesn’t push a simple message.

Even when we are introduced to a ‘Fascist’ higher-up in the pecking order the choice of policies he puts forward is not what many would expect. Rather than the easy to knock down reactionary Tory-style  we get a slightly mangled ‘Political Soldier’ rhetoric. Here the miners strike is supported, black Nationalists like the Nation of Islam are referenced as comrades in arms and the villains are the money men not the immigrants. The money men, of course, are identified with the Jews here. For out-of-work, alienated working-class youth looking for answers the ideology seems to offer them. Nor does the play shy away from the fact that ‘the Cause’ offers purpose, direction, support and comradeship to empty lives.

League of St. George also shows the Skinheads as part of a wider working-class culture through their family life. Dan Walker’s  depiction of a Father in and out of jail and absent is convincing. This is one just aspect that makes us understand a little where Adam and his friends are coming from.

Don’t let what I have written scare you though! It’s not all serious and heavy. There is great comedy in the dialogue of this play!

Georgia Bliss (who also acts in the play) has written something which captures the energy of the skinheads and their appealing and unappealing sides. It certainly rang true to me as someone who was a sometime friend of Ian Stuart of the notorious Skinhead band Skrewdriver. It is a show which is full of life, ideas and passion. Go see it!

Reviewed by Patrick Harrington



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