Cog Night at Wellcome Collection. We’re here to see Pressure Drop, a new play from Billy Bragg and Mick Gordon.
A big departure for Wellcome Collection, Pressure Drop was a live performance, within the space usually occupied by their temporary exhibitions.
Theatre innovators, On Theatre, collaborated with Billy Bragg to create a play (with musical interludes) that explored English identity and loyalty.
A working class family are brought together for their patriarch’s funeral. The different generations struggle with grief, unfulfilled passion, fraternal conflict and their place in a home town, transformed by immigration and the poverty of unemployment.
The play was all the more poignant as it was set in Barking, Bragg’s home town, where the British National Party has a strong presence.
We were welcomed to Wellcome by an army of friendly staff. We shuffled into the performance space and stood between isolated stage sets: a pub, a typical terrace house living room, a funeral parlour. Billy Bragg stood centre-stage with a small band.
We shuffled between sets, sometimes able to get in close, sometimes our British reserve kept us to the back of the crowd.
Pressure Drop asked some big questions about life, love, identity and loyalty. It was clever, fast-paced, funny, poignant, sometimes terrifying.
My aching joints suffered from two hours of standing on the concrete floors but that’s my only complaint. It was a perfectly formed show, the ideal mix of entertainment and thought-provoking drama.
You can buy the album and some merchandise, here http://www.billybragg.co.uk/pressure/