A Hackney theatre company has found itself in the middle of controversy after its new immersive theatre experience Cockney’tivity came under fire for “poor shaming”.
Many have taken to Twitter to lambast Zebedee Productions following the release of press images and a £55-per-head price tag. The photos featured characters donning tracksuits, and included a pregnant woman drinking alcohol and smoking a cigarette.
The company has issued an apology, saying they wanted to celebrate East London culture, not poke fun at it, via their production, which is also a Christmas meal.
Zoe Wellman, artistic director at Zebedee Productions, told Eastlondonlines: “We want to apologise for the misconception of the imagery used to promote the play – this does not mirror the experience we are offering. We wanted to…celebrate East London culture through theatre. It was never about class, it’s a play, a parody – it’s comedy.
“Some of the press photos are of poor taste, we agree…It was never our intention to poke fun at a stereotype.
“We definitely did not mean to cause any harm or offence…We are just two friends bringing together our passions”.
Locals expressed their distaste after Zebedee Productions started advertising the event.
The gall of going into neighbourhoods and charging £55 quid for a roast while laughing at pretend poor people https://t.co/Gs9CHjCRmC
— Patrickortreat Brus- (@patbrusnahan) October 18, 2017
— R A West (@TheWestSide_) October 19, 2017
an experiential night where u pay £55 to eat a roast + watch pretend poor people simulate a harrowing argument wow https://t.co/rP6L5sTTF4
— Stan The Golden Boy (@tristandross) October 18, 2017
Some Facebook users saw a different side to those on Twitter. One wrote: “I’m a Cockney – I can’t say that I’m that offended. It isn’t as if we don’t poke fun at others – we do – and should be able to take this on the chin. If it’s not funny, then we wouldn’t care about it anyway.”
“It is just light-hearted banter. They televise Made in Chelsea and TOWIE and nobody takes that seriously.”
The production is described as an “immersive theatre experience loosely based around the nativity, taking place in a disused East End boozer, that’s been brought back to life just for this event”.
“As guests take their seats in the pub, an alternative East End nativity will unfold around them, with appearances from Pat Butcher, a young Joseph and his up-the-duff girlfriend Mary. But it’s clear there’s more to the bump’s conception than meets the eye. As the night goes on, the conspiracy unravels, culminating in a raucous finale that will have guests dancing on the tables.”
Dave Hill, author of the blog ‘On London’, wrote: “However guilty the Zebedee players might or might not prove to be of rudely parodying a particular group of fellow Londoners – and, remember, no one has actually seen their show yet – their media accusers stereotyped the people of Homerton far more comprehensively”.
The production comes just months after the opening of ‘Alcotraz’, “London’s first prison cocktail bar”, which also found itself under fire by critics over its “fetishisation of misfortune”. Located in Brick Lane, the bar aimed to “replicate the eerie atmosphere and mystery associated with prison life” for £30.
The production begins December 1 and is on until December 21 at The North Star, Homerton.