In case you missed it, there is a little thing called the ‘general election’ happening in a couple of weeks. Across England the electorate appears gripped by apathy. Not for us the forceful, passionate women leading vibrant nationalist campaigns capable of instilling a sense of self-determinative belief in voters. For those sandwiched between Wales and Scotland the choice is between three different shades of beige – one shiny as a Christmas ham, one an amalgamation of several sock-puppets and one that leaves no discernible impression at all – or, how could we forget, everyone’s favourite part-man, part-pub sound bite generator.
Voter turn-out has been declining since the 1950 election when almost 84% of people cast their ballot and by 2010 had sunk to 65% of the electorate (amazingly this is still higher than the nadir in 2001 which saw less than six out of ten eligible voters bothering to have an opinion on who they wanted to control their lives). In the intervening years mass political movements have come and gone but the institutions of Westminster have remained as hierarchal as they have ever been, and – based on a simplistic metric of ‘private education and Oxbridge’ – may have gone backwards to Victorian levels of patrician governance, with few MPs from across the political spectrum able to claim a background that even Tony Blair’s favoured ‘Mondeo Man’ could identify with.
The question of how to get people back to the ballot box may not be solved by the London fringe theatre scene but at least they are trying. At present you can barely make it into any black-box space without being assailed by the sound of discontent with the political system. Camden’s People Theatre is no different and No Milk For Foxes finds itself at the centre of three weeks of drama drawn together under the appropriately-titled banner of The State We’re In.
The most refreshing thing about No Milk For Foxes is that it does not lecture its audience. There is little overt politicisation in the narrative and no attempt to indoctrinate those watching with a finale that involves a rousing rendition of The Internationale. Instead it seeks to engage with political issues by shining light onto the mundane everyday pressures of living in a 21st century economy where ‘flexible working’ refers to the terrifying prospect of zero hours contracts and no money in next week’s paycheck rather than the ability to work from home on Friday afternoons.