In a new age of radical leftism and global politics, this new version of Maydays had startling parallels to the political revolution of the Millennial Generation.
1968. A TIME OF POLITICAL UPHEAVAL, THE LIKES OF WHICH HAS NOT BEEN SEEN SINCE. UNTIL - PERHAPS - NOW.
This new version of David Edgar’s 1983 award-winning hit play drew on the parallels between the politics of the past and millennial politics.
Maydays tells the story of the idealistic young who came of age in 1968 and were drawn into revolutionary politics; of defection from east to west as well as from left to right. It is told through a number of interlocking stories, across three continents and 25 years of tumultuous history.
Geoffrey Beevers - Trelawney / Pugachev
Gillian Bevan - Mrs Glass / Weiner
Richard Cant - Jeremy
Sophie Khan Levy - Clara / Judy
Chris Nayak - Phil / Korolenko
Lily Nichol - Amanda / Erica
Mark Quartley - Martin
Christopher Simpson - James Grain / Paloczi
Liyah Summers - Bryony / Tanya
Jay Taylor - Lermontov
Director Owen Horsley | Designer Simon Wells | Lighting Claire Gerrens | Sound Steven Atkinson | Movement Polly Bennett
The end of the second world war created huge hopes of fundamental social change in Britain. However, these hopes were quickly dashed. Like many of his generation, schoolboy Martin Glass protests against Britain’s nuclear weapons. He is befriended by a former communist teacher, Jeremy Crowther. Martin visits America, where he is inspired by movements of opposition to racial discrimination and the Vietnam war, and returns to join in the political and cultural uprising by students and young people which came to a head in 1968.
Seeking a way to put his revolutionary ideals into practice, he is torn between the anarchist ideas of his friend Phil and Amanda, a single mother, and member of a small Trotskyite party, Socialist Vanguard. Beaten up by the police during an anti-apartheid protest, Martin takes Amanda’s advice and joins the party.
Now a university lecturer, Jeremy becomes disillusioned with student protests. Martin’s friend Phil is imprisoned on terrorism charges; campaigning for the conviction to be overturned, Martin visits Jeremy and is alarmed to discover how far Jeremy has moved to the right. But Martin himself is expelled from Socialist Vanguard. Now living with Amanda, he loses faith in the left, and announces his defection at a May Day party in 1975...
Meanwhile, in Eastern Europe, dissent with Soviet communism is growing. In 1956, the Soviet Union invades Hungary to suppress democratic reforms. A Soviet Army officer, Pavel Lermontov, interviews a young Hungarian protestor, Paloczi, and is persuaded that what is happening is not a counter-revolution but a genuine uprising against an oppressive regime.
Back in Russia, Lermontov tries to raise a petition in support of six Soviet citizens arrested for protesting against the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia. He sends the petition abroad, is attacked in the Soviet press as a renegade and traitor, is tried for anti-Soviet agitation and is imprisoned.
Jeremy becomes involved in Miklos Paloczi’s campaign for Lermontov’s release. After nine years in the gulag, Lermontov is exchanged for a Russian spy imprisoned in the west, and comes to Britain.
SYMBOL OF RESISTANCE
For Paloczi, and for Jeremy, Lermontov is a symbol of resistance. They argue that trade union power and the corporate state is leading Britain towards a Soviet-style society. Martin has become well-known as a propagandist against the left and for the free market, and is invited to interview Lermontov for the Sunday Times. Lermontov becomes increasingly concerned about the agenda of the people who rescued him; at the same time, Martin is encouraged to become an advocate for the state to take ever stronger measures against what is increasingly defined as an “enemy within”.
Both men face a fundamental choice about who they should ally with, what they believe, and where those beliefs should take them...
Trying It On
David Edgar also brought this one-man show to The Other Place, relating the events of 1968 to the turmoil of today. Directed by Christopher Haydon, this marked the playwright's professional debut as a performer.
It’s 1968. David is 20. It is the height of the worldwide student revolt. The Vietnam war rages. Enoch Powell delivers his 'Rivers of Blood' speech. Martin Luther King is assassinated. These events will define David’s politics and give focus to his writing.
It’s 50 years on. The 70-year-old is confronted by the 20-year old. Do they share the same beliefs? If not, is it the world that’s changed, or him?