Edinburgh is about taking risks and pursuing challenges and Paper
Tiger’s devised play about Sudan’s struggle for freedom after colonial
tyranny certainly earns points there. Sadly the achievement falls
short of the ambition. The plot is impenetrable, the characters are
thinly-sketched, and despite some good performances the production
feels rather undergraduate.
The writing is laced with anachronistic dialogue (“I used to ride her
bareback”; “She is an odd one”). The design clutters the stage,
occasionally obscuring actors’ faces in shadow. The direction often
splits our focus, like having one of the characters hand out leaflets
during a major political speech. The production lacks presentational
consistency, including odd stylized moments for no discernible
dramatic motivation. A pounding drum solo gets things going for a bit
and the concluding scene between Joanna Bell and Rezaul Kabir
generates real intensity.
The ambition’s admirable, yes, but the result’s not worth banging a