Socialist Worker

They Won’t Kill You - a dystopian Team Britain

by Xanthe Whittaker
Issue No. 2028

A scene from They Won

A scene from They Won't Kill You (Pic: James Limm)

This political satire imagines a future where Britain has been rebranded as Team Britain, and a Team Leader has taken the place of the prime minister.

Under the pretext that “your government loves you”, a war is waging against anti-social behaviour – and loners are the regime’s latest target.

All across the country loners are being rounded up and sent off to Self Realisation Refuges to learn how to be team players in this newly affirmed Team Britain. Lonerism, you see, is a threat to national security. Sounds a little bit sinister... and a little bit familiar.

The play follows Malcolm, who has been identified by the government as one of these social malcontents. His heinous crime? He prefers to stay at home and read.

We watch him travel through the maze-like workings of a state where so called “social problems” are met with punitive measures, where our freedoms must be hidden from “those who hate our freedoms” and where the moral foundations of society, as dictated by the government, are constantly shifting and elusive. In this situation Malcolm becomes a very unlikely, very reluctant hero of sorts.

But this play does more than simply take a few sharp satirical stabs at the state of British and world politics today.

It also questions the nature of democracy and the exercise of power in a system that seems only one step away from tipping over into an Orwellian nightmare.

As well as being very pertinent, They Won’t Kill You is fast paced and very funny. It has been well cast, with strong performances from Dylan McDonough, who plays Malcolm, and from Ward Parry and Georgina Carey, who play government officials.

The writer Michael Ross is a young playwright whose first work, Teacher’s Playground, was played at the Edinburgh Festival last year.This is Ross’s second play – and judging by the mastery with which he handles his material, he is well worth watching out for.

They Won’t Kill You

Written by Michael Ross
Directed by Clea Langton
Barons Court Theatre, Fulham, London W14
Until Saturday 2 December

To book tickets phone 020 8932 4747 or go to the CP Theatre Productions website at

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Article information

Sat 25 Nov 2006, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 2028
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