Saturday, 20 September 2014

The Greatest Little Republic (In The World!)

Mull Theatre
Three stars
On the vague off-chance that anyone has woken up in Utopia this
morning, it might be worth visiting the fictional town in Chris Lee's
new play for Mull Theatre to find out the extent to which such
Shangri-las can be spoilt. Loosely based on Andorra, by German writer
and contemporary of Bertolt Brecht, Max Frisch, Lee gives this epic
yarn a contemporary spin that goes way beyond his source's analogies to
his own era's cultural prejudices to capture something utterly current.

Ushered in with the sort of triumphalist fervour 
that would make a VisitScotland ad look understated,
Alasdair McCrone's production sets Lee's play in a walled city which,
while looking like an ancient Greek ruin, also oddly resembles McCaig's
Tower in Oban. Here a former war journalist drowns his sorrows while
his adopted daughter Anissah, seemingly an interloper from a land
regarded with suspicion, works the local bar. Forever close to her
brother Johan, played byJames McKenzie, Anissah is lusted on by a
mutual friend, though only when they leave school and go out into the
world do their opposing ideologies become clear.

With suicide bombings and wars on terror both in the mix following a
deceptively chipper opening, immigrants are demonised and scapegoats
abused in Lee's increasingly dark scenario that could easily be set in
apartheid era South Africa or in the Middle East ght now. Helen
McAlpine as Anissah leads a big ensemble cast in this bold outing
produced by Mull's increasingly ambitious umbrella arts organisation,
Comar, which remains a grown-up and thoroughly serious look at how
popular movements can cause empires to crumble.

The Herald, September 19th 2014

ends

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