Go Bang Your Tambourine at Finborough Theatre
Written in 1970 by classic British playwright Philip King, Go Bang Your Tambourine is a captivating drama about domestic life. The London premiere of the show arrives with a distinct sense of humour, exploring the role of religion in relation to contemporary social and cultural values.
The production begins as the young David Armstrong (Sebastian Calver), a devoted member of the Salvation Army, returns from his beloved mother’s funeral and prepares to live alone in their north-country house. He advertises for a lodger to fill his mother’s empty room and finds Bess (Mia Austen), a kind and spirited local barmaid. Then, David’s estranged father, Thomas (John Sackville), decides to move in and tension builds to breaking point.
David’s anger about his situation gives way to an inherent kindness founded on a naive view of the world. His friendship with the naturally charming Bess radiates from the intimate stage of the theatre. In contrast, Thomas attempts to destroy their wholesome relationship with the chilling motivations of a slimy and bitter villain. All the while, the prim, maternal figure of Major Webber (Patience Tomlinson) tries to do what is best for David, especially considering what his mother would have wanted for him. Her movements impart a kindness on every scene as they threaten to lurch, teetering on the edge of tearing everyone apart. Throughout it all, this small cast appears as a broadly relatable family on stage.
Of course, there are ethical concerns alongside the decision to produce a play that represents members of the Salvation Army as victims of discrimination. It is important to keep the show’s themes of community and faith in mind as both a criticism of the organisation’s more recent offences against various groups of people and acknowledgement of the piece’s perspective on what it means to care for others.
Go Bang Your Tambourine exposes cultural taboos against tradition to illustrate a layered exploration of what it means to live a good life while pursuing personal happiness. In the end, the conflicts between David and the people who surround him teach us to accept each other for who we are in order to grow together as a community, or risk losing each other altogether.
Photo: Phil Gammon
Go Bang Your Tambourine is at Finborough Theatre from 6th August until 31st August 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.