SEARCH
The Tartuffe and The Trial
REVIEWS
Swanhunter (Leeds)

Mixed Up North

By • West End
WOS Rating:
The Out of Joint tour of Robin Soans’s verbatim docudrama in a mixed race theatre club in Burnley comes to rest in Wilton’s, not the ideal venue for it, but a satisfactory showcase for the energy and vibrancy of Max Stafford-Clark’s company.

The project originated in an invitation to Stafford-Clark and Soans from LAMDA to create a new play with students; and several of those students - Kashif Khan, Rose Leslie, Kathryn O’Reilly, Claire Rafferty and Lisa Kerr - are making terrific professional debuts in a show which has not, oddly enough, been seen in Burnley itself.

The play was co-produced at the Bolton Octagon and has toured since September. The founder of “Streetwise” is a do-gooding liberal social worker, Trish, whom Celia Imrie plays as a pious mixture of Mother Theresa and Patricia Routledge, referring to us, the audience, as a few friends who have dropped by to watch the technical rehearsal of the new show.

The proceedings are never less than watchable, but the structural conceit collapses in a well organized but theatrically limp series of personal testaments about racial and sexual abuse, arranged marriages, suddenly an outburst of an incident of rape, then an example of a successful mixed race marriage.

What happened to the rehearsal, you ask yourself after an hour of this? You could interpret this flaw as a deliberate strength, for the show, when we see it, is a Bollywood dance spectacular, and the meat of the evening is the grim reality of these scrap heap lives, the “real drama.”

You learn a lot, especially from the always superb Stephanie Street’s story of a Bangladeshi arranged marriage that she made work, and the horrific story of “grooming” endured by the younger sister of Lorna Stuart’s passionately wide-eyed, deeply riled Tamsin at the hands of a group of coke-dealing businessmen.

The stories sit up, one by one, instead of developing organically in a theatrical context. Needless to say, the county officer Roy (Matthew Wait) is laughed out of court for his complaint about constant negativity.

Cynical pessimism in Burnley, he’s told, is a symptom of the malaise, not its cause. It’s interestingly suggested that the BNP prospers because of a false invocation of nostalgia. Would the rise of Burnley FC to the premiership be part of that?


comments powered by Disqus

By providing information about entertainment and cultural events on this site, WhatsOnStage.com shall not be deemed to endorse,
recommend, approve and/or guarantee such events, or any facts, views, advice and/or information contained therein.

©1999-2014 WhatsOnStage.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use & Privacy Policy