Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/681/12489

From The Socialist newspaper, 3 August 2011

Play review:

Ragged Trousered Philanthropists

Bill Mullins

The south east region of the TUC and transport union RMT recently hosted a new interpretation of the famous play by Robert Tressell, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists.

The play, produced by Townsend Productions and Hertford Theatre and adapted by Stephen Lowe has a cast of just two, Fine Time Fontayne and Neil Gore. They play all the main characters in Tressell's original book.

For many people the book was their first introduction to socialist ideas and the new play keeps to its original message very well on the whole. Clearly, from the reception when I saw it, most of the audience were familiar with the book and its main characters, otherwise it could have been difficult to follow its drift.

In the play Frank Owen is the socialist who, around 1908, tries to convince his fellow house painters in the fictional town of Mugsborough of the superiority of socialism over capitalism. He met with scepticism and jeering except for one character who agrees that they are being exploited and therefore need to stick together against the bosses who are driving down their wages.

Frank Owen is reluctant to do this and expresses the view that organising against the bosses in unions is playing the game that the capitalists want you to. "We should take over everything and not mess about with the edges," seems to be his message. Tressell himself was a member of the Social Democratic Federation which Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin critiqued in his pamphlet "Left-wing Communism: an infantile disorder".

However, the new interpretation does bring out very skilfully some of the key points in Tressell's original work such as the scene of the "great money trick" and the discussion in the pub during "the annual beano" where the workers are brought out once a year to the countryside on a day trip.

The strength of the original book and previous stage productions (particularly the recent Radio Four play) was that Tressell exposed in graphic form the greediness of the bosses as they exploited the workers and the role of the bosses' agents.

The play is especially good with Hunter, the general foreman, who spends his times slinking about trying to catch the workers out who might be "slacking".

In this interpretation the two actors have to rapidly switch between characters (mainly by donning various hats on stage) while explaining to the audience what is going on. They do this well and were appreciated for their efforts.

The play is due at several venues in the coming months. For details see http://www.townsendproductions.org.uk

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 3 August 2011:


Fighting the cuts

UNITE AGAINST ALL CUTS

Building a workers' political alternative to the establishment parties


Opposing the far right

Norway: right wing terrorist killings

Waltham Forest: a victory for unity


Socialist Party NHS campaigning

NHS cuts from a nurse's viewpoint

Gloucestershire NHS


International socialist news and analysis

Eurozone and USA - Debt crisis

Kazakhstan oil strike: solidarity urgent

Syria: State unleashes new terror

Spain:"Throwing a shoe at the system"


Socialist Party workplace news

Bombardier

Reinstate Paddy Brennan!

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party youth and students

MARCH FOR JOBS!


Socialist Party news and campaigns

Disability rights

The great PFI schools rip off - once again!

News in brief


Socialist Party review

Ragged Trousered Philanthropists


Socialist Party feature

Llanelli railway riots 1911


 

Home   |   The Socialist 3 August 2011   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Socialism:

triangleHackney & Islington Socialist Party: Mental health and socialism

triangleSocialism 2020: Will you help our finance appeal?

triangleWorldwide capitalist crisis deepens

triangle71,522 raised: We've smashed our target again

triangleWest Midlands Socialist Students: What is socialism?

Robert Tressell:

triangleWomen workers' militancy during the 'great unrest'

triangleLiverpool: 200 march to commemorate Robert Tressell

triangleWonderful socialist play finds Edwardian poverty not in past

triangleRobert Tressell's characters are all too real to me

Capitalism:

triangleNigeria protests shake regime

triangleBolivia elections: Crushing defeat for the right as MAS secures landslide victory

triangleWorld capitalism's terrified strategists abandon austerity - for now

Reviews and comments

Reviews and comments

28/10/20

Government

The Socialist Inbox

28/10/20

Miners

Books that inspired me: Germinal

14/10/20

Obituary

Obituary: Raph Parkinson 1958-2020

14/10/20

Letters

The Socialist Inbox

14/10/20

Labour Party

Non-fiction: This Land - the story of a movement

14/10/20

Education

Students speak out: isolation and uncertainty reign

7/10/20

Letters

The Socialist Inbox

7/10/20

Racism

Non-fiction: 'Why I no longer talk to white people about race'

7/10/20

Film

Film: 'Sick' - 'They've got people looking in the wrong direction'

2/10/20

Southwark

TV: Council House Britain

30/9/20

Letters

The Socialist Inbox

30/9/20

Socialist Party

Why I joined the Socialist Party: Labour moved right and left me behind

23/9/20

Pay

A day in the life of a salon worker

23/9/20

Socialist Party

Why we joined the Socialist Party

23/9/20

Football

TV: The English Game - how the working class made football the people's game

triangleMore Reviews and comments articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


October 2020

September 2020

August 2020

July 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999