Barons Court Theatre Presents The Tailors' Last Stand

Penny Flood enjoys the premiere of a sharply observed new play

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The Tailors’ Last Stand is a sharply observed play about people facing up to the end of the dreams they’ve clung to for years, and espousing reality. At its heart it’s political but you don’t have to be political to enjoy it because it’s also very human, very funny and very touching, with a story line that keeps you guessing to the end.

Four old communists come together to mark the closing of their trade union, the NUTGW (the National Union of Tailoring & Garment Workers). But as things go on old wounds are opened, old rivalries exposed and it turns out there’s more animosity than brotherhood.

The ludicrousness of the situation isn’t wasted on three of them. Tom (Richard Ward), Barney (Tony Parkin) and George (Terry Jermyn) as they listen to the leader Max (Edmund Dehn) who stands on a chair to give his final speech. Of course they’ve forgotten to get him a gift to reward all his hard work.

He never gets to the end of his speech as a fight breaks out between two of the others, resulting in a hilarious battle with a Zimmer frame and walking stick. A later battle isn’t so funny when divisions between socialists come to the fore as Max sings the Red Flag and Barney sings the Internationale back at him.

 

The writing is very sharp so, although at times they’re reminiscing on dialectical materialism, the failure of Socialism and the disappointment of realising the cruel truth about the Soviet Union, it never descends into boredom.

At times it’s near farcical, and although we do eventually learn why George falls off his chair, we never get to the bottom of what Marx thought about the universe.

Running though all this is a mystery - who is Rose and why is she relevant? The answers are revealed slowly and painfully as the action goes on and things stagger to a heartbreaking finale.



It’s particularly poignant as the writer, Ian Buckley, is writing from experience. His father was an active communist and trade union member in the garment workers union all his working life until he retired aged 70.

Although it’s not without its faults, this is a good piece of new writing which, with a bit of tinkering at the edges, would make a good play for television.

You’ve got until March 10 to see it, at 7.30pm each evening with an additional matinee on Saturday March 9 at 2.30pm. Tickets cost £15 (£12 concessions) and to book, call the box office on 0208 932 4747.

March 4, 2013