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The Telegraph: Jubilee, Royal Exchange, Manchester, Review

November 8th, 2017

telegraph16aNihilism, nudity, no future: Derek Jarman’s bleak Britain comes pungently to the stage – Jubilee, Royal Exchange, Manchester, review

How do you take a defining film from the punk era and reconceive it for the stage, 40 years on, when the V-flicking message of punk was “no future”?

Derek Jarman’s 1978 vision of Britannia sinking below the waves during the flag-waving year of the Silver Jubilee revelled in images of dystopian collapse: post-industrial wastelands, dismal interiors that no yet-to-be-conceived TV makeover programme could spruce up, random acts of senseless violence. It was Beckett’s Endgame meets A Clockwork Orange, with melancholy traces of Shakespeare – and it was designed to look like the end of the world was nigh.

Yet here we now are, and many of the gobbing youths of yesteryear turned out fine, some of them doing very nicely indeed thanks to the Thatcher revolution (Malcolm McLaren, “godfather” of punk, at least had the grace and courage to acknowledge that, recalling a “failed, miserable country” before her arrival).

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