Thursday, September 21

Miss Brexit – Rose Theatre

Discussing controversial topics is one of the prerogatives of theatre. Immigration and European identity, or lack thereof, is as controversial as it gets in these post Brexit years. Enter Miss Brexit.

In this devised new piece, under the direction of Alejandro Postigo and Amaia Mugica, we find an unnamed presenter, played by George Berry, and 5 contestants: Maria Alba, played by Alba Villaitodo, Maria Isabel, by Isabel Mulas, Maria Marie, by Maxence Marmy, Maria Shivone, by Shivone Dominguez Blascikova, and Maria Ricardo, by Ricardo Ferreira.

As simple as the indicates, the audience is promptly informed about the show they are about to witness: Miss Brexit is a contest where one of the five contestants will be awarded the right to remain in the UK. The premise is straightforward, and it is held relentlessly all the way until the end. The contestants represent a country each: Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Portugal, except for Dominguez Blascikova’s character, who represents Spain, Slovakia and Cuba.

The show takes the audience through the contest, first with an introduction by the actors who talk about their own countries with exacerbated stereotypes that are played with immense charisma and portray the actors’ perception of how the think they are seen as immigrants. The frame of the contest provides for a magnificent background to handle these stereotypes with humour.

After that, the play assumes a plain structure of alternating between songs and a Test of Britishness. This makes for a direct way of giving each performer the chance to show their acting and musical skills, and although it becomes slightly predictable, the actors keep it alive with their energy and madness. In each song, the actors will tell the audience how it was when they arrived in the UK, and how they dealt with different aspects of life as immigrants. Most of these stories are full of emotion and sensitivity about the life of young performers in a foreign land, but also about expectations, desires, and fitting in. The music, composed by Harvey Cartlidge, is played by the performers on stage, and that brings a whole other dimension to the play.

The several rounds of the Test of Britishness, on the other hand, are based on real questions from the test to become British citizen and are worked through ingenuously to lead to a duel and a challenge, where members of the audience might be included on stage. A very bold decision, it is truly interesting, and relies on the good will of the audience, who can enjoy this moment immensely while feeling the sense of uncertainty that is brought by the unplanned into the stage.

Towards the end, the self-reflexivity of the contestants is slightly higher, but the desperation to stay in the UK is still very big. The characters seem un-transformed, but they hesitate, and hide parts of themselves, because they cannot or do not want to give up who they are to become part of this new place.

An intelligent and incredibly fun play about identity and belonging, this piece will surely trigger questions into anyone who participates in it. And it is undoubtedly educational about the issues of nationalities and migration.

Reviewer: Gonzalo Sentana

Reviewed: 8th July 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.