Mr. Punch’s Nuclear Family

Company: Brixton Faeries
Production name: 
Mr Punch’s Nuclear Family
Devised and directed:
Brixton Faeries
John Lloyd, David Simpson, Bernie, Paul Newton, Colm Clifford, Alistar Kerr, Ian Townson
Year: 1975

‘As the title suggests the subject under scrutiny was family life, projected in conventional terms as the cornerstone of society and a heaven of peace, security and tranquility… Brixton Faeries kept the usual murder and mayhem enacted in the famous seaside entertainment but added a number of alliances between Mr Punch and others to give added weight to the Patriarchal institution called ‘the family’.’ (Ian Townson, Drama Queens)

The first play produced by Brixton Faeries, Mr Punch’s Nuclear Family, was inspired by the original puppet show, Punch and Judy. The production enacts the tragedy of a nuclear family, where the father, Mr. Punch, making the most of his patriarchal status, slaughters  his gay son (Sonny Punch) and liberal wife (Mrs Punch).  The script makes several references to the local area, for example the gay son sings a song of praise for the Gay Community Centre just before being executed by his father, while Mr. Punch’s favourite place to spend his money is The George, a Brixton public house that refused entrance to gays. Mr Punch himself, during his trial, blames the Gay Centre for corrupting his son. ‘Mr Punch was simply a radical feminist and radical gay stereotype of the oppressive heterosexual male in his role as husband and father. Both his spouse and offspring were used and abused by him as his property.’ (Ian Townson, Drama Queens)

‘The play was first performed at the Gay Community Centre in Railton Road, Brixton. The audience consisted mostly of friends and the odd stranger who had dropped in for something different. A much more important testing of the waters came later when parts of the play were performed at a local fair in the playground of Effra Parade Primary School. Here the usual set up of bric-a-brac was graced by the presence of a rather unusual group of people wishing to perform a different kind of street theatre…’ (Ian Townson, Drama Queens)


Drama Queens by Ian Townson; located at the Hall-Carpenter Archive (LSE, London)

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