Skip to main content

What Shadows

Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
Four stars

The sound and thunder of some very English and very heavy weather opens Chris Hannan's play, that puts real life disgraced Tory MP Enoch Powell at the heart of a debate about whether our differences can ever be reconciled. Powell, of course, was the bi-lingual, classics quoting scholar, whose so-called rivers of blood speech in 1968 was a dog-whistle to the sort of legitimised intolerance which has looked creepingly familiar of late.

One of those who suffered is Rose, the woman of colour who grew up conscious of Powell's demonisation of her kind. As played by Amelia Donkor, Rose turns out to have a few prejudices of her own, even as she forms an unholy alliance with Sofia, the right wing academic she usurped. Moving between the late 1960s build-up to Powell's speech and 1992, Roxana Silbert's new staging of her 2016 Birmingham Rep production frames the action against Ti Green's tree-lined urban idyll and monumental concrete walls. Louis Price's impressionistic video projections set a tone that might be called elegiac if its subjects weren't so alarmingly current.

Ian McDiarmid gives a bravura turn as Powell, leading a cast of seven as a die-hard sentimentalist who weeps at King Lear and who, more amusingly, might these days be labelled a grammar Nazi if nothing else. It's a big, wordy, important play. Ideas of belief, intolerance and faith, no matter how corrupted, ping pong their way after some kind of reconciliation. When McDiarmid performs Powell's actual speech at the close of the first act, it's electric enough. It's his unrepentant stance at the play's end, however, that flags up a form of England's dreaming that lingers still.

The Herald, September 14th 2017

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Art School Dance Goes On Forever – Snapshots Of Masters Of The Multiverse

Intro – Snapshots – Deaf School

1

In 1980, the same year as the Manchester band, Magazine, released a 7
inch single called A Song From Under The Floorboards – a three verse
and chorus distillation of Dostoyevsky's novel, Notes From Underground
– an art school scandal occurred.

This scandal took place in Liverpool, and was based around a project
called the Furbelows, although it became better known in the Liverpool
Echo and other organs that reported it as the Woolly Nudes.

The Furbelows, or Woolly Nudes, were a group of artists who had come
out of Liverpool College of Art, who, dressed in grotesque woolly
costumes which featured knitted approximations of male and female
genitalia, made assorted public interventions around the city centre as
kind of living sculptures acting out assorted narratives.

The Furbelows project had been funded by what was then Merseyside Arts
Association, and, after the participants were arrested and taken to
court on obscenity charges after what…

Peter Brook – The Prisoner

Peter Brook is no stranger to Scotland, ever since the guru of European and world theatre first brought his nine-hour epic, The Mahabharata, to Glasgow in 1988. That was at the city’s old transport museum, which by 1990 had become Tramway, the still-functioning permanent venue that opened up Glasgow and Scotland as a major channel for international theatre in a way that had previously only been on offer at Edinburgh International Festival.
Brook and his Paris-based Theatre des Bouffes du Nord company’s relationship with Tramway saw him bring his productions of La Tragedie de Carmen, La Tempete, Pellease et Mellisande, The Man Who…, and Oh Les Beaux Jours – the French version of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days – to Glasgow.
Thirty years on from The Mahabharata, Brook comes to EIF with another piece of pan-global theatre as part of a residency by Theatre des Bouffes du Nord, which Brook has led since he decamped to Paris from London in the early 1970s. The current Edinburgh residency has alr…

Romeo And Juliet - Shakespeare's Globe Comes to Glasgow

Open-air Shakepeares are a summer-time perennial of the theatre calendar, attracting picnicking audiences as much as midges. More often than not, such romps through the grass are frothy, heritage industry affairs designed to be accompanied by strawberries and cream and not to be taken too seriously. Shakespeare’s Globe theatre company look set to change such perceptions when they open their outdoor tour of Romeo And Juliet in Glasgow next week as part of the West End festival.

For the two young actors taking the title roles of the doomed lovers, it will also be something of a homecoming. Richard Madden and Ellie Piercy both studied in Glasgow prior to turning professional. Indeed, Madden has yet to graduate from the acting course at RSAMD, and, as well as facing the pressures of playing such a meaty role in close proximity to the audience, will have the added anxiety of being assessed and graded by his tutors.

“This is the end of my third year,” says Madden following a Saturday mornin…