Labels**** (Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh)

Posted: August 26, 2015 in Theatre


Joe Sellman-Leava (let’s call him Joe for brevity) has got a bit of a nerve, luring us into a show that purports to be an amusing entertainment about the labels that we all stick on ourselves and each other and then delivering a thinly-disguised lecture on racism. Joe, a Devonian, is the son of an Indian (via Uganda) immigrant father who changed the family name from Patel, because that name was a label bringing with it too much prejudice. Joe’s winning smile and gently persuasive manner work wonders in selling his arguments, although quoting from speeches made by Enoch Powell half a century ago and from widely ridiculed figures such as David Starkey, Katie Hopkins and Jeremy Clarkson does not help him much. He tells us that the label “P**i” is unspeakably offensive, whilst not explaining why other four-letter labels of national origins – Brit, Jock, Taff, Frog, Yank, etc – are acceptable and did it not occur to him that the girl who rejected him on Tinder may have done so for no more sinister reason than that she just did not fancy him? Moving to the UK’s immigration policy, he argues that barriers are erected to keep out refugees on the grounds of racist labels, without considering that housing/job shortages and strains on health and education services could have something to do with it. However, I feel sure that Joe would agree that it’s good to disagree and, in getting us thinking and talking about these things, for him it’s job well done.

Performance date: 21 August 2015

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