Aged Ps being originally East Londoners themselves (Bethnal Green and Whitechapel) the England People Very Nice play by Richard Bean at the Olivier Theatre was a great (belated) birthday treat for them, mrs maytrees, sister and myself last Saturday.
The play had been criticised in some quarters as being racist but such criticims proved enirely misplaced - possibly saying more about the detractors than about the play itself. The stage setting was innovative with much use made of C21 virtual effects and electronic scenary. The theme was a parody of the history of waves of immigration to Bethnal Green from Roman Times onwards. The production often cleverly split the stage into two halves. On one side the setting was the inside of a modern day pub in E2 where narration by a well established Englishman (West Indian immigrant origins) was reflected in the action on the other side.
Fun was poked at everybody - the Hugenots, Jews, Irish, Pakistanis and English people were not excluded; for example the explanation that the common use of expletives by indigenous cockneys is but a sign of their inability to use proper punctuation. The narrator's view of present day England (under the current government?) was amusingly made clear by his comment towards the end, that he was to return to live in Barbados.
Some poignant moments such as the Bethnal Green Tube air raid shelter disaster during WWII were very well done indeed. The live music, briliance and sheer rombustiousness of the production probably explained why there was not a single empty seat to be had - presumably even for ready money - in the largest of the National's three theatres.