Wednesday, July 24

Miss Brexit – Streatham Space Project

Presented as part of the Assemble Festival, Miss Brexit is a satire on the place of the migrant in post-Brexit Britain. Five contestants from various countries (Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Italy and Slovakia) are vying for one award of the right to remain in the UK, showcasing their credentials to be the one to receive this coveted prize and be crowned Miss Brexit. As they do so, their desperation to remain in the UK becomes ever more evident and bizarre, as they push themselves to become “British” in order to stay in the UK and integrate into the culture. Should they do that, or should they stay faithful to their roots and the culture they bring with them into what is a multicultural society?

The actors are an international troupe, themselves dealing with the consequences of Brexit and their future as performers. As Miss Brexit contestants, they are broad stereotypes, the talented cast becoming increasingly mad characters as they participate in the contest’s rounds. Each tells how they arrived in the UK and their experiences of living here. One of the contest’s rounds focuses on questions from the British Citizenship Test (irrelevant to the question of applying for leave to remain but providing an opportunity to highlight the hoops migrants may have to go through should they wish to apply eventually for citizenship). The contestants come up with increasingly off-the-wall answers, the larger-than-life MC always accepting one of the most-wrong answers as the correct one. It’s a fair bet that at least half the audience wouldn’t have been able to provide the correct answers either.

There’s a great idea behind this piece, an exploration of deep issues of nationality, migration, identity and belonging against the backdrop of the consequences of Brexit. Unfortunately, the premise is swamped in a plethora of stereotypes, mocking and confused narratives. As a whole, it feels unfocused and at times lacking in pace. The irrelevant Citizenship Test section goes on too long and there’s an off-hand reference to the contestants fleeing “war-torn countries” which confuses things more. Who or what is being satirised? The migrants who are mere stereotypes? Brexit (an easy target, to be sure)? Britain and the British? Everything? Comedy and satire should rightfully mock, but when everything is mocked, the potential impact and insightfulness are lost.

Reviewer: Carole Gordon

Reviewed: 2nd May 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.