Tony’s Last Tape

Omnibus Theatre

Based on the diaries of Tony Benn

“There is no final victory, there is no final defeat.

 Just the same battles which have to be fought over and over and over again. “

Photo of Philip Bretherton
Photo by Robert Day

Tony Benn was an extraordinary politician, parliamentarian and thinker who aroused deep but conflicting emotions. Unashamedly left wing, he was respected and reviled, loved and hated, celebrated and ignored and over his life moved from being “the most dangerous man in Britain” to something of a national treasure. He famously recorded his thoughts and the day’s events every night for over 50 years. These recordings were the basis of his diaries and “Tony’s Last Tape” is a recreation of the evening of his very last recording. Since its first performance in 2016, it has toured the country to much acclaim, and is coming to Clapham’s Omnibus Theatre in April.

Leslie Manasseh spoke to the director, Giles Croft, about the play. It tells the story of Tony Benn’s life through his reflections. But it’s also a living story – not just an old man talking sentimentally about his life and work, but an exploration of passion and politics as relevant today as ever. He speaks across generations and the play resonates with young audiences many of whom are engaging with progressive, left wing politics in ways which have not been seen since the 1960s.

It’s not just about politics. Tony Benn was a very warm and generous person whose friendships crossed the political divide. He had a sharp sense of humour and a humanity which transcended tribal party allegiances. It promises to be a human story as much as a political tour de force.

When I asked Giles Croft why people should come to see this play he replied “Because it’s about passion; it will engage you and challenge you to think about the world you live in. It’s funny and entertaining with a great performance at its heart.” Good enough reasons for me.

Written by Andy Barrett, directed by Giles Croft and starring Philip Bretherton, “Tony’s Last Tape” runs from 2 – 20 April (excluding Mondays) in the Omnibus Theatre,1 Clapham Common Northside, SW4 0LH. Tickets £16, £13 Concessions

Foe further information call 020 7498 0544 or visit https://www.omnibus-clapham.org/tonys-last-tape/

Accompanying Exhibition – Power: Missiles, Miners & Monarchy

Tony Benn’s unique voice portraits (sonograms) by artist and activist Tracey Moberly will also be on display in The Common Room at Omnibus Theatre. This is the first time that these large voice portraits celebrating his life work have been on public view since 2005. Sonograms have been used by scientists involved in audio analysis, in areas such as voice recognition and bird song. Tracey worked closely with Tony Benn and used the same technique to capture her favourite key moments from his words and rendered them as sonic visual artworks on canvas.

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