Us Against Whatever – Content notes

Age guidance: 14+

Contains: strong language, smoking, death of a family member and grief, class conflict, incidents of racism and xenophobia, references to homophobia and a reference to the death of Jo Cox.

Plot summary

We want to ensure that we do not cause distress among our audiences because of the content of our work. The summary below includes spoilers but may be useful to those who prefer to know the subjects touched upon in the show.

The whole show is narrated by an MC, who is independent of the story, but whom also plays separate characters. The first act begins with a mock discussion about Brexit around the dinner table, before the MC shoots each character, using a drum hit as sound effect, and explains that this show will not be an academic piece.

The story then begins in 2008, with Hull City at Wembley for the play-off final. Steph is at the pub with her friend Tara, mum Sheila and dad Neil, who has just lost his job. Across the bar is Anna, a Polish visitor to Hull, who has joined her migrant brother Michal for the summer. Steph and Anna meet while watching the game on television and share a kiss at the final whistle.

The story then moves on to 2012. Anna has returned to Hull, after coming out to her parents, who react negatively. In an interview for a job she is discriminated against for being Polish and pigeonholed for low skilled work. The interviewer sings a song that enforces this idea.

Meanwhile Steph and Sheila are in a hospital waiting room, where they receive the news that Neil has died. Steph sings a song about her dad, who joins her for the chorus. The next scene takes places at Neil’s funeral, where the family sing a song in his memory. Meanwhile Anna is working in hospitality at the venue for the wake, where she bumps into Steph. They talk over a shared cigarette: Steph about her dad’s death, Anna about the homophobia and xenophobia she has faced.

The second act all takes place in 2016, on the night of the EU referendum, in a karaoke bar in Hull. Anna is drinking there with her colleague Jordan, thinking about her time in England. Steph is also there, celebrating her birthday with Sheila and Tara. Steph and Tara have an argument about the Brexit vote, with Tara referencing the racism she has experienced.

The referendum result is then announced and the MC takes on the role of Nigel Farage, to sing a celebratory song, that culminates in a reference to the murder of Jo Cox, with a gunshot at the end. While Anna is singing a song in Polish, a drunk English man accosts her. He sings a song telling her to go home and spits in her face. Steph watches and does nothing, but then goes to speak with Anna afterwards. The MC finishes by asking where do we go from here?

Last updated: 20 April 2020, ahead of the online streaming of a 2019 performance recording.