Tuesday, February 27

No Milk for the Foxes – Beats & Elements

Working class culture rarely gets a look in anywhere in theatreland and when it does it’s all too often patronising twaddle with some pathetic redemptive narrative thrown in to salve middle class guilt.

Thankfully this funny and often bleak 2015 work from Beats & Elements avoids that as co-founders Conrad Murray and Paul Cree based this tale of two security guards surviving on the margins of society on their own experiences, and that of their mates

Murray’s Spaxx is a half Indian geezer from Mitcham who is whiling away the hours with Cree’s more considered white, working class Marx on a zero-hour contract night shift in the office of a rundown factory.  Between chats about life living from one crap payday to the next, their dreams and. insecurities they throw in some top-class beatboxing and rapping.

Marx and Spaxx (geddit) do touch on race, but this is a play that is all about class, and the relentless misery of trying to make ends meet. Marx may think unions are a good thing, much to Spaxx’s derision, but he knows as a man with a baby on the way he would throw his workmate under the bus to get another shift.

There’s plenty of dark humour as these working class performers have a real ease and chemistry, but the point that being poor is as much about where you are born as your ethnicity is subtly made for those who care to look.

There is a particularly personal section as Spaxx reflects on his dream of an acting career getting smashed on the rocks of being told he was nothing, and the costs of drama school that now makes training the preserve of the public schools.

The musical interludes are an opportunity for these two triers to let rip at the hand fate has dealt them with Cree’s raw raps driven by Murray’s world class beatboxing,

This piece was originally conceived as an indictment of David Cameron’s Britain, but with a million people now relying on foodbanks this online rerun is even more pertinent. And one in the eye for the likes of Ken Loach who really have no clue about how relentless poverty warps the soul.

No Milk for the Foxes is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIL841QsEME&feature=youtu.be

Reviewer: Paul Clarke

Reviewed: 5th July 2020

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★