Review: Hilarious Hopkins Impressions Remind Us That Racism Is Still Everywhere

Labels, Theatre Royal Stratford East ★★★☆☆

Lettie Mckie
By Lettie Mckie Last edited 30 months ago
Review: Hilarious Hopkins Impressions Remind Us That Racism Is Still Everywhere Labels, Theatre Royal Stratford East 3
Joe Sellman-Leava in Labels at Theatre Royal Stratford East © Ben Borley

Theatre Royal Stratford East opens a new studio space this month, starting with Labels by Joe Sellman-Leava.

A recent Edinburgh hit, this one man show reflects on the human need to label everything.

Armed only with a suitcase full of memorabilia, some sticky labels and a knack for impressions, Sellman-Leava takes us through his personal experiences as a mixed race British guy growing up in Devon during the 90s.

He's a charming host with a great sense of humour, putting the audience at ease by giving us labels to wear and showing us how to make a proper paper aeroplane.

Given the emotive nature of his subject matter, it is to Sellman-Leava's credit that he handles issues of racial prejudice, casual racism, institutionalised racism and  immigration policy with reflective sensitivity.

In recounting his personal experiences of racism he makes it clear that there are some extremely bigoted people out there; he has been on the receiving end of a whole host of ignorance, from idiotic comments on Tinder to school mates faking Indian accents and the 'P' word shouted behind him in the street.

The best bits of Labels are the hilarious impressions of historical figures, politicians and celebrities who have said some truly shocking things about race. Katie Hopkins, Jeremy Clarkson and Nigel Farage might be obvious send-ups but these impressions remind us just how much bigotry remains ingrained in the 21st century.  

Meanwhile Enoch Powell and Idi Armin are compared to Trump's more contemporary diatribes.

The whole performance is delivered with tongue in cheek confidence, making light of these slurs — a great example of how best to deal with bullies.

Labels is on at Theatre Royal Stratford East, Gerry Raffles Square, E15 1BN  until 30 April. Tickets £10, £8 Concessions. Londonist saw this show on a complimentary ticket.

Last Updated 13 April 2016