Protest Song is a 70 minute monologue in The Shed – The National Theatre’s new intimate venue on the South Bank.
A rough sleeper, Danny finds himself caught up in the Occupy movement’s protest camp that descended on St Paul’s environs through the winter of 2011. It’s visceral political theatre, lampooning inequality at every level and the gulf between the people who have temporarily taken to the streets, and the man who lives there because he has nowhere else to go.
Initially furious at the invasion, Danny gradually gets involved with his ‘surrogate’ family, giving shape to his day.
Rhys Ifans plays the wounded and resilient Danny, delivering Tim Price’s funny and savage narrative in what critics have called, “a blazing performance”, “superb” and “utterly convincing”. After many years of being asked to move along, it’s ironic now to be told to remain motionless in one place. He takes refuge in banter and anecdotes, full of pathos and humour, but imminently combustible.
It’s not your usual festive theatre, with no fairytale ending, summed up by the metaphor of a piano with damaged keys, that when something is broken you have to find a way to work around it. It’s the only way the music will be heard.