Chopped Liver and Unions

Chopped Liver and Unions tells the story of workers’ activist and trades unionist Sara Wesker, now largely lost to the footnotes of twentieth century history, but in her time a noted crusader for equal rights and social reform.

A century on, and the themes still have strong resonance

Born into the East End of London in 1901, this firebrand campaigner is brought to life in an appealing performance by Lottie Walker; with support from James Hall on a piano which both signposts major events in her life and echoes of the solidarity songs of the picket line.

A century on from the events recounted, and the themes still have strong resonance: strikes, equal pay for women, the value of immigration, the audacity of the far-right. This leads us to an uneasy sort of reassurance that the more our battles have changed, the more they have stayed the same: and an inevitable frustration that despite the very best efforts of some of the fiercest radicals of the time… not enough has improved for the (wo)man in the street.

Wesker’s charm endeared her to all who met her. A friendly and accomplished machinist on the shop floor, she was also an intelligent and impassioned speaker whose energised oratory mesmerised her seasoned Communist comrades, and a community stalwart whose ability to converse with the older Jewish workers in their Yiddish mother tongue helped to engage a wider demographic in the cause. Her skills in militancy and negotiation led to several successful walkouts, and she became something of a celebrity in the East End throughout the 1920s and 30s.

Lottie Walker guides us through Wesker’s life and works: the strikes, a doomed relationship with Union activist Mick Mindel, and her presence at the Battle of Cable Street. Indeed, so intoxicating was her personality that her nephew Arnold would later commit Sara to literary as well as political history as one of the lead characters in his 1956 play Chicken Soup with Barley. The play chronicles those pivotal moments at Cable Street, in which East London rejected Fascism: and looking back, there seems to be an inevitability that it premiered the very year in which angry young voices began to reshape British theatre on behalf of the working man.

This is a lovely and well-researched little piece, whose central message is delivered with a brisk cheeriness and good humour which gives a good insight into the sort of woman Sara was, and why it is important we revisit her contributions to society.

Visit Show Website

Reviews by Rebecca Vines

Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Southern Lane

Love's Labour's Lost

★★★★★
Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Southern Lane

A Midsummer Night's Dream

★★★★★
theSpace @ Surgeons Hall

The Portable Dorothy Parker

★★★★
theSpace @ Surgeons Hall

Sherlock Holmes The Last Act

★★★★
Summerhall

Summer Camp for Broken People

★★★
Summerhall

Anything That We Wanted To Be

★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

The East End of London has burned with the fires of rebellion for centuries. From the Matchgirls in 1888 to the Made in Dagenham workers at Ford's in 1968, its women have fought for change. In 1928, Sara Wesker led a 12-week strike with the workers literally singing for their suppers on the picket line. In 1936 she fought at the battle of Cable Street. But did this formidable woman's passion for the cause destroy the passion for the love of her life?

Most Popular See More

SIX

From £39.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £27.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mamma Mia!

From £15.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Mousetrap

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Book of Mormon

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Phantom of the Opera

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets