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The Precariat at the Finborough Theatre

Published by: Carolin Kopplin on 22nd Jul 2013 | View all blogs by Carolin Kopplin

Scott Chambers (photo: Sam Goodchild)

I can see this life for exactly what it is. I can now, anyway. We're walkin' a knife edge. One slip, one tiny slip an' we fall. An' there's a f*** of a long way to fall... even for us. An' we're kept there... on the knife edge... because they can tell yer which way t'go. Forward or down.

Following a reading as part of Vibrant 2012 – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights, the world premiere of Chris Dunkley's new play is now presented at the Finborough Theatre. Dunkley's play deals with the emergence of a new major class living precarious lives at the mercy of the one percent, thus "The Precariat". Finn and his family are representatives of this new class. Although Finn is a talented boy of fifteen, his future already looks rather bleak. Overwhelmed by his mother's depression and his younger brother's drug problem, he doesn't achieve in school what he easily could achieve under different circumstances. Not that it really matters, as the girl with the history degree and a job at a fried chicken drive-in assures him when he comes to chat with her. 

Finn is sharing a flat in North London with his mother and his younger brother Leo. Finn's father is an ex-con who only shows up to sponge on Finn and his mother: "I gave you life, you owe me!" Finn feels responsible for Leo and, like his mother, is very worried about the young lad's dealings with drug dealer Balthazar. People like Balthazar recruit them young. Finn's mother has been dreaming of moving to Southed ever since she saw a chicken walk across the High Road, which she considers a sign to move. When she lands a job as a cleaner in the City, she is intent on catching a banker who will then make her dream come true and perhaps help Finn become a doctor. When she meets Tim, her dream seems to become reality. Although Tim tries to befriend Finn, Finn remains sceptical of Tim, a bitter cynic who explains to him that it does not matter what party is in charge  because nothing will ever change: "People in debt don't have the time to think about a change in society" and the powerful will keep it this way.

This is a poignant production, ably directed by Chris New. The cast is very good throughout, especially Scott Chambers as Finn who behaves more responsibly than any of the adults in his life, an idealist who is convinced that it is possible to change society. Kirsty Besterman is very good as his hapless mother who means well but cannot cope with her harsh life as a single mother. Ben Mars conveys the cynicism of Tim who doesn't think that anything will ever change in a world ruled by the invisible 1 %. David Hayler plays Finn's father exuding hopelessness from every pore and is the voice of ominous drug dealer Balthazar. The set is rather bare, consisting of a sofa and a number of TV screens that reflect the CCTV reality that we all share in Britain today.

An important production.

By Carolin Kopplin

Until 30th July 2013
Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays,23, 28, 29 30 July 2013

Sunday and Monday evenings at 7.30pm. Tuesday matinees at 2.00pm.

Finborough Theatre, 118 Finborough Road, London SW10 9ED
Box Office 0844 847 1652  
Book online at


1 Comment

  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 4 years ago
    Thanks, Carolin. This sounds excellent. A very real and relevant drama.
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