Social class system explored in new musical coming to Lancaster

Ali Matthews and Leo Burtin star in the new musical performance.
Ali Matthews and Leo Burtin star in the new musical performance.
Share this article

The relationship between rich and poor is explored in a new musical coming to Lancaster.

‘The Best Of Both Worlds: A Busker’s Opera’ is a DIY musical focusing on financial woes and is centred around two artists who come from different upbringings.

One of the artists, Ali Matthews, grew up in a comfortable neighbourhood in a large town in New Hampshire, USA, while Leo Burtin spent his childhood in a farming village in the north east of France.

Meeting in the UK, the artists’ friendship began when they realised they shared a similar work ethic.

“We both experience acute attacks of work guilt – and this has become not only influential on our practice but very much a part of it,” said Ali.

“Sometimes we wonder whether being useful is important, or whether there might be a radicality in uselessness – a kind of obstinate refusal to conform to daily rhythms.”

For their first show together, The Best of Both Worlds: A Busker’s Opera will be shown at the Nuffield Theatre, based at Lancaster University.

Matthews and Burtin chose to rigorously explore their relationship to their social backgrounds, work and capitalism in the fun and accessible format of an (almost) musical.

Within the performance they make a song and dance of their financial woes. To make this piece, they’ve met with a host of different people from street market traders to CEOs, to take the temperature of how people feel about the UK’s class system.

Featuring pop songs, French street music classics and playful audience interaction, critics say this performance will resonate with anyone who has ever worried about money, or felt squeezed by a capitalist society.

The Best of Both Worlds: A Busker’s Opera, as part of the Lancaster Arts programme, will be at the Nuffield Theatre on Tuesday, February 21 at 8pm.

Meanwhile, Lancaster Arts in association with arts organisation ‘Making Room’ present new performances by emerging artists and theatre companies at the Nuffield Theatre on Wednesday, February 22 at 8pm.

The performances will be the culmination of a week-long peer-learning development programme entitled ‘Foot in the Door’ which has been supported using public funding from Arts Council England.

The programme gives artists based in the North West the opportunity to develop new work through a week of structured workshops, networking and supportive feedback through showings.

For tickets for the above please call 01524 594151 or visit to find out more.