Front row at the Brexit show

It’s the biggest show in town.

The genre is dark pantomime accidental improvisation. A play performed by actors who direct themselves whilst also writing the script and designing stage decorations. If the rules of poetics are there to be broken, The Brexit Show has succeeded.

Dialogue is dead, replaced by parallel monologues performed by orators who see into the future and find pasts that never were.

Central characters are in constant danger and nobody shouts ‘he’s behind you.’

New cast members appear out of nowhere. With no formal roles in the story they swagger onto the stage, picking up whatever prop might serve their purpose. Self-appointed guest stars driven by dreams of a regular slot and private dressing rooms they are applauded by one side of the arena, booed by the other. Villain and hero in one body.

There are no purists in this theatre. Like the actors, the reviewers prefer to write their own endings. And even at this stage of the show they can’t agree when it started.

Seated in separate sections they cry for their own losses, cheering each alleged win. With little empathy for tragic characters, they gloat at misfortune when it confirms their expectations. ‘I told you so,’ they type in the darkness, screens illuminating their satisfied grins. The thrill of pressing send is never more intense than when the message may hurt a friend. One who’s on the other side. You know who you are.

But the high is elusive and short-lived. The interval never comes. The anger never recedes.

Gallery, balcony, stage and stalls, this is an auditorium of Mr Hydes.

The audience throw rotten fruit across the divide whilst showing exaggerated affection for those in their box. Uneasy alliances have formed in these upholstered seats, their premise shining in suspicious eyes: My enemy’s enemy is my friend. Utopia takes many forms and yours is my dystopia.┬áBut in this act and the next we are united whilst we prepare for the final battle scene. If we rise from that the real struggle will begin.

Backstage, writers from different schools are already drafting scripts for the sequel, each team convinced they will own the stage. Their story world is so compelling it will lure the audience in whilst the other side plays to empty halls.

The banners will go to the printers soon. They promise set decorations of green countryside, earth of plenty, smiling doctors on a background of clean hospitals and happy children in equal families surrounded by global friends. But the stage directions are marked in red and the little green man above the door has been erased.

The sequel will make The Brexit Show look like a children’s ballet.

Nobody will have seen anything like it.

Which way to the fire escape?

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