“Brexit”: Politics as vaudeville at Avignon

By Lucy Komisar

For clarity about politics, “Brexit” at the Avignon Theater Festival OFF does as well as any pundits. It‘s a clever mime and vaudeville comic take by a pair as a verbally dueling father and son.

Tom Corradini and Samuel Toye, photo Fabio Nedrotti.

Tom Corradini and Samuel Toye, the work‘s authors, plays Charles, 47, and Samuel Toye is his son Eric, 25. Corradini is the director. In a pastiche of puppets, mime and vaudevillian soft-shoe, they argue about the June 2016 vote for the UK to stay or remain in the European Union. Eric says, “I want to stay in Europe.” Charles ripostes, “I want to be free from bureaucracy.”

The serious arguments are overlaid with smart repartee. The father lauds parliament as the icon of Britain. The son hits back, “I thought it was the icon of corruption.” Dad, “No, that‘s the French parliament.”

I liked the depiction of a self-important BBC TV- newscaster who knows nothing, but pompously declares, “We make the news because we are the media.” That is, nothing happens unless the media says it, and if it says it, it‘s news.

Samuel Toye and Tom Corradini, photo Fabio Nedrotti.

At times the two talk to each other through puppets, which sing the history of the British empire. That includes the song from Star Wars and an appearance of Darth Vader.

That naturally conflates with Charles‘ attacks on Italia and Polish immigrants for being Catholic. He says, “Eric is afraid he‘ll be stuck in England. But he can go to Commonwealth countries.” Eric spells out what that means: “X as in xenophobia.”

They do a soft-shoe on the vote, when leave got 17 million to 16 million to remain. It‘s a smart, sprightly version of a serious story, which the UK‘s conflict with the EU over the terms of disengagement shows it‘s not going away. If you‘re bored with the commentariat, go here.

“Brexit.” Written by Tom Corradini and Samuel Toye, directed by Corradini. Tom Corradini Teatro, at The Garage International at the Hotel Mercure Pont d‘Avignon, Avignon OFF, Avignon. July 13-18, 2018.

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