By Alexander Zeldin
HOME, 14 July 2016
The finest play of the year so far, Alexander Zeldin’s Beyond Caring is a real play for today, a slash-and-burn portrait of Brexit Britain.
It is all about four cleaners in a meat factory, three of them agency workers, and their phone porn-peeking boss. Employment is low-paid and precarious, still it is better than nowt. We live in austere times. You are lucky to have any kind of job nowadays.
Work is dignity, or it should be. Here one person can hardly make ends meet; she steals biscuits to take home. Only, later, we see her return to the factory after her shift to bed down for the night. She no longer has a home, it seems. Another person is disabled but assessed as being fit for work. A verbal warning, that’s what she comes up against, for being clumsy and slow and tardy. These workers are, in the phrase of the moment, ‘people who have been left behind’. They respond to their situation with fragile optimism, ovine gratitude and a simmering, bloody-minded defiance.
Trade unions are nowhere to be seen in this world. During the referendum, we were told that we needed to stay in the EU to preserve workers’ rights… for some reason, this fell on deaf ears. And as for Project Fear and Osborne’s myriad dire warnings: how can you threaten people who have nothing left to lose?
Beyond Caring is a brilliant work of theatre. There are vivid, vibrant performances from a sterling cast and dark inklings of black humour – not all tears in the beer, by any means. It feels like an authentic document of our times, fuelled as it is by a terrible anger. You fear for these people and for their future.
For Beyond Caring at HOME, click here.