Trying it On
There’s something happening here in David Edgar’s look back in something between anger and languor at his twenty-year old radical self, and how those who came of age in 1968 ended up voting for Brexit. What it is is pretty clear as Edgar himself rummages through his back pages in Christopher Haydon’s production for China Plate is how the times both have and haven’t changed.
While a long way from being a revisionist recanting of old ideals, Edgar isn’t shy of making himself and others of his generation look a tad silly in their puritanical earnestness. And if there’s any hint of him suggesting today’s new wave of activists respect their elders, it’s roundly countered as the play lurches away from being a sixties survivor’s stroll through counter cultures past into the here and now of things.
With all the liberal gains of the last half century currently under threat, Edgar has created a thoughtful and witty meditation on his generation that is part history lesson, part memoir and, crucially, part call to arms to learn the lessons of the past. At the end, it is also a joyful show of solidarity that suggests the revolutionary ideas that shaped Edgar aren’t done with yet.
Until the Flood
The shrine that lines the stage throughout Dael Orlandersmith’s new solo play - all teddy-bears, candles and tied-up messages of grief – is sadly telling image of our times. It illustrates too the depth of feeling stirred up by the shooting of black teenager Michael Brown by white police officer Darren Wilson in Missouri in 2014.
Through a series of monologues drawn from interviews with eight local residents caught in the fallout of the shooting, a portrait of America in all its contrary complexity is powerfully made flesh by Orlandersmith’s searing performance.
The result is a haunting meditation on community in all its messy and at times curmudgeonly ways. But it’s more than that. It’s about forcing that community, and the whole of America by default, to confront itself following the shooting of Brown, and to ask themselves and each other why it happened.
The Herald, August 20th 2019