Tony Benn and Roy Bailey

To the Phil tonight to see, as part of this year’s Writing on the Wall Festival, Tony Benn and Roy Bailey. Winner of the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for Best Live Act in 2001, Roy Bailey and Tony Benn’s show (also called The Writing on the Wall) is a sell out success at theatres and festivals up and down the country. A presentation of an alternative view of how we got where we are today and where we could be going next, Roy and Tony give us a history of dissent in words and song, drawing on first hand experiences and the stories of the people they don’t teach us about in schools. A hugely entertaining, and inspiring, show.

Tony Benn and long-time friend Roy Bailey have worked up a powerful show about the history of political dissent. Folk singer Bailey, who once returned an MBE in protest at the situation in Palestine, used his lyrics to strong and often poignant effect.

Each took turns at the microphone while the other relaxed in his own armchair – in Benn’s case, with pipe and a mug of his tea, clearly ignoring any smoking ban that may have applied to performers.

Benn, who has called Liverpool “the most political city in the world”, clearly enjoyed himself. He read short statements from historical figures such as Thomas More (comparing his vision of Utopia to the original idea behind the NHS), Oscar Wilde, and Keir Hardie. In between, Bailey sang the most appropriate folk song relevant to the particular time or figure in history.

At the end of the show they received a standing ovation.

Tony Benn and Roy Bailey

Roy Bailey sings about Palestine

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