A story of jazz, friendship and teenage far-right radicalisation, It'll Be Alt-Right on the Night is undoubtedly a risky piece of work - or rather, a piece of work playing at a risky time in British politics. Not only is it tackling the issues of the moment, but it also attempts to take a boldly personal angle on the rise of polarisation, fascism and disillusionment: through a pair of childhood best friends who start out in the same corner of Sheffield, yet follow wildly different political trajectories.
What is refreshing about It'll Be Alt-Right on the Night was that it carves itself a clear niche. It’s clear that it’s not trying to explain, unpick and attack every corner of the contemporary moment - at its core, it’s a play about a tight friendship being pulled apart by current affairs. It feels personal and emotional and, crucially, relatable; director Jonny Kelly and writer-performer Matthew Greenhough absolutely nail the feeling of being a twenty-something-year-old outgrowing old friendships. Equally, It'll Be Alt-Right on the Night isn’t afraid of holding the forces-that-be to account. It doesn’t shy away from exploring the intricacies of online radicalisation, the punk movement and working-class male subjectivities - often all at once.
It'll Be Alt-Right on the Night is also surprisingly funny. Though the intermittent Jack-the-lad humour felt slightly incongruous, it also had numerous laugh-out-loud moments, cleanly offsetting its potentially over-earnest message. By the same token, given that where It'll Be Alt-Right on the Night excels is in its writing, such the elements added on top felt slightly throwaway. Though the incorporation of the live trumpet playing makes sense for a show which is so much about music, and provides a dramaturgical placeholder for Stevo, at times it felt almost comically awkward. Equally, the record metaphor could have been pushed further, beyond simply bookending scenes. That said, Greenhough’s palpable energy goes a long way to rectifying lingering scenographic issues.
Overall, It'll Be Alt-Right on the Night is a touching, intelligent and witty exploration of a particular sense of injustice from otherwise privileged working-class men. It tackles difficult and divisive issues from a clean and nuanced angle, and it does so with charm and warmth: it is definitely one to watch.