The Big Pitch: Asbo! The Musical

Fifty years ago it was blacks. Five years ago it was asylum seekers. Today, it’s the working-class youth who feels the heat of the Middle Engl...

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Published 29 Jul 2007

Fifty years ago it was blacks. Five years ago it was asylum seekers. Today, it’s the working-class youth who feels the heat of the Middle England’s glare, whether it’s by loitering on street corners, polluting upper decks of buses with their percussive ‘urban’ music or simply having the temerity to cover their heads in enclosed spaces. The phenomenon has earned its own vocabulary: the ‘ASBO teen’, generally found in tabloid headlines in close proximity to the words ‘terror’ and ‘nightmare’. (And it’s funny, isn’t it, how a kid with a hosepipe is described in the same terms as a suicide bomber?)

Naturally, where prejudice reigns, Edinburgh fights back in the only way it knows how: by putting on a musical. Under the guise of ‘satire’, ASBO! The Musical, featuring “a host of tunes, Burberry and sequins”, follows the story of “one chav’s quest for the ultimate recognition”.

Hilariously subversive though this sounds – and a pat on the back, guys, for managing to trivialise the issue of social polarisation and stand out in the Fringe programme at the same time – satires on chav culture generally tend to be as generic as the tabloid pap it targets. The same motifs – hoop earrings, souped-up motors, pink tracksuits, babies with ridiculous names - recur so reliably you could, if you wanted, make an ASBO! The Musical bingo card and play along. Except bingo’s just a mite plebeian, isn’t it, readers?