My Country: a work in progress at the National Theatre review: a play that tries to make sense of Brexit

Melissa York
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My Country: a work in progress

It has been said that our membership of the EU was too complicated a subject for a referendum, and this play – born out of a nationwide listening project – also makes the theatre feel inadequate when it comes to deciphering what the hell happened on 23 June.

Each actor is assigned a region – south west, north east, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland – summoned to a meeting with Britannia, where they enact the real-life interviews verbatim, morphing into a Muslim housewife here, a West Country farmer there.

London and the south east are represented by a series of politicians, brought to life with an amusing accuracy by Penny Layden, but are they really representative of Londoners? It does the 48 per centers scant justice.

Dairy prices clash with fishery quotas, immigrants lament the ‘land of milk and honey’ they’d dreamt of but never found, and a working-class Scottish lad resents the boys from Fettes.

It’s a succinct snapshot of “our disunited kingdom”, but it isn’t anything we haven’t heard before. The scale and ambition of NT’s project is to be admired, but the end result is no more satisfying than “Brexit means Brexit.”

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