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Brexit - the real-life comedy show

Many commentators see the Brexit process as having farcical elements – but an anglophile Italian actor has turned it into a real comedy show.

Brexit has been performed in venues around Italy, France and the UK and had good reviews for its over-the-top portrayal of a father and son  with opposing views.

Self-made businessman Charles, played by Tom Corradini, faces off against Eric (British co-writer Samuel Toye), an aspiring artist, about what it means to be British and European as they prepare to cast their vote.

It is at the Brighton fringe this month (tinyurl.com/y39pc2e8) and coming back to France to Lyon in October.

“It is popular on the continent because people want to know what Brexit is about,” said Mr Corradini.

He says Brexit is timeless because it deals with reasons why people voted as they did, not recent headlines.

It aims to be as balanced as possible. “I can sympathise because the EU as it is does not work,” he said.

His play finds humour in British stereotypes – including the ancestral antagonisms between the French and Eng­lish – the “incredible British sense of self-irony”, and plenty of physical comedy (one scene sees the characters yapping at each other like dogs).

Mr Corradini took inspiration from news stories, including one about Indian restaurant owners in the UK voting for Brexit in hopes of easier immigration for potential staff from India.

“The father argues it’s very important to save British curry,” Mr Corradini said.

He spent many years in the UK and usually writes his shows in English first.

When the Brexit vote happened, many continentals viewed it as “typical eccentric British behaviour”, he said.

“I saw it differently. I could see it was about national identity and that there was a generational gap, and it’s something that’s being replicated across Europe. It was a highly emotional affair, quite un-British, really – but I could see it could make a great story.

“Emotions often fly high in families, and whatever country you’re from, young people identify with the theme of conflicts with their elders.

“I saw the vote as not just something British but as a symptom of something not working in the way the EU is constructed. It is our defining event. In 20 years, it will be like the fall of the Berlin wall.

“But, as an outsider, it was easier for me to write the story. A British person would have been too involved.”

He thinks Brexit will happen, even if it takes a while.

“I see a parallel with Henry VIII and the Catholic Church. That took 30 years.”

See tomcorradini.it/en/tour.

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