Magazine
Latest Issue

A play on paedophilia

Writing a play about child abuse isn't easy. But it helped when the home office asked me to stop

By Stephen Brown   April 2009

When Richard Bean began writing England People Very Nice, his play that opened at the National Theatre in February, did he worry about racism? It is a boisterous pageant of immigration and assimilation over four centuries in Bethnal Green. There are complex figures and human sympathy, but the play is awash with cartoonish stereotypes: randy French Huguenots, incestuous bog Irish, intolerant Muslim radicals, self-hating Hampstead liberals and thieving cockneys.

Some critics admired the play, others attacked it as crude. More than one complained that it went for big laughs on a subject—race—that demanded sober, probing realism. I, too, understand the…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to letters@prospect-magazine.co.uk

More From Prospect