© Photos by Ben Borley.
Labels is a one-man show devised from public commentary, policy, journalism and the personal upbringing story of Joe Sellman-Leava in politically correct England, where racist Katie Hopkins, tabloid inflammatory culture and small-minded Jeremy Clarkson counterpoint the public domain with messages of hate, nationalism and right-wing white English supremacy.
Joe leads the audience through the darkest, dishonest and dimmest part of the British colonial empire history. In a variation of stainless accents spreading from India to Uganda, where part of his family is from in a crusade to describe and define his roots to fellow British buddies who see him as not quite British since he is a shade darker than white.
Joe Sellman-Leava was formerly Joe Patel, a British citizen with a new name to facilitate job opportunities and perhaps fewer Indian impersonations from strangers and less discrimination from written communications upon coming across a non-English name.
Labels highlights the social mechanisms as well as accepted language (depending on where one is) created to identify people, skin colour, culture and genders to enable communication.
In Labels we can understand the difficulties language brings to general chatter and social interactions, prevailing the white person as the prime example.
Joe picks out one white sticker after another from a suitcase to present himself and letting the audience experience the story of a British man that is not often thought to be English because he is not white.
Fantastic impersonations of world leaders such as ambivalent Donald Trump, posh boy David Cameron and Leave Campaign xenophobic Nigel Farage – Joe Sellman-Leava also puts in perspective what it means to be a migrant. Aligned with the aggressive political agenda worldwide deciding if a human life is worthy of saving or if one is only another cockroach drowning in the mediterranean sea.
Labels is a genuinely original and side-splitting play, featuring social prejudice and racism leading the audience to tears and laughter in multiple measures.