It has incestuous, pig-breeding, drunken Irishmen, snooty Frenchmen, farcical Jewish anarchists and the animated presence of a mad mullah ranting about how women must be subservient to men.
It reminded the Daily Telegraph of the Carry On films and the London Evening Standard of the slick, cruel, abusive style that Bernard Manning perfected ages ago.
Its director and writer may well have anticipated controversy, but shortly after opening at the National Theatre, England People Very Nice , a new play by the award-winning dramatist Richard Bean about successive waves of immigration to the east
end of London, has been labelled racist and offensive by the communities it portrays.
A delegation of writers and community activists from the East End will meet on Friday with Nicholas Hytner, the National's director who is also directing the play, to protest against what they regard as a caricature of Britain's racial history.
The National represents modern Britain, and in particular London, and I don't see how Muslims can identify with the National Theatre when it puts on this kind of racist work, Hussain Ismail, a playwright from Bethnal Green who has demanded the
meeting with Hytner, told the Guardian: I have been going to the National for 20 years, but I don't see how I can identify with a place that stages what I see as a personal attack on me and the community I belong to.
Hytner said in a statement: The play lampoons all forms of stereotyping: it is a boisterous satire of stereotypes of French, Irish, Jews, Bangladeshis, white East End cockneys, Hampstead liberals and many others. Every stereotype is placed in the
context of its opposite and it clearly sets out to demonstrate that all forms of racism are equally ridiculous.
Bean's comedy, set around the Brick Lane area of east London, spans more than three centuries, from the arrival of Huguenot weavers to successive influxes of Irish, eastern European Jews and Bangladeshi Muslims. Each wave is greeted with hostility and
suspicion with locals, only to integrate to such an extent that they themselves take a similar attitude to the next wave of newcomers.
Update: Multicultural Censors Organise Protest
24th February. Based on article
Artists from the East End will be holding a protest outside the National Theatre at 5pm on Friday 27th February in the run up to the platform discussion at 6pm with Richard Bean, the writer of the play.
Playwright Hussain Ismail, who will be leading the campaign, said: Hytner is scared of a debate. We are from the East End and we know that it is the most multicultural place in the world. Brick Lane in particular is the centre of the multicultural
universe. It's the coolest place on the earth and that's why people come from all over the world to hang out there. Bean and Hytner haven't got a clue about the East End. That's why the play is bonkers!
We want a right of reply a proper debate not a 40 minute platform discussion where the director just asks some bland questions to the writer and we all go home. We want a vigorous and robust debate with Bean and Hytner and us on the same
platform with the media and public present on mass.
Organisers of the protest are asking everybody to come celebrate multicultural London and demand that East End artists have the right to a debate, and challenge misrepresentation of their communities. They are asking protesters to bring whistles and
drums to stand up for multiculturalism.