Mike Bartlett on Albion, Brexit and Covid: ‘national identity is critical to coming out of this’

Mike Bartlett on Albion, Brexit and Covid: ‘national identity is critical to coming out of this’

August 11, 2020

The drama first staged after the EU referendum has taken on new relevance and is being broadcast by the BBC. Its creator reflects on the ‘emotional weight’ of Britishness

Mike Bartlett’s 2017 play Albion returned to London’s Almeida theatre in February, the week after Britain left the EU. It didn’t mention Brexit but the story reflected its mournful divisions. Then the Covid-19 pandemic struck and dwarfed the drama’s concerns of nationhood, patriotism and nostalgic notions of Englishness.

Or did it? “Some were saying in the early stages of Covid that the virus had blown those divisions out of the water,” says Bartlett. “Actually, I don’t think it has … Everything that has happened in regard to questions of national identity has become fundamental to what we want to do coming out of this.”

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