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Softly spoken politics in New Company’s Broken Voices



Review by Emma Whitelaw

I CAN'T say I have ever been a fan of political theatre, or politics in any form for that matter. So when faced with eight short plays, each as political as the next, I found myself cringing in my seat.

Thankfully, New Company’s Broken Voices, now showing at Tristan Bates Theatre sweetens the blow with a sugary coating of passion – something of which I am very fond and admittedly something which inevitably goes hand-in-hand with politics.

But as passionate as they all are, I feel some of the writers are not quite convincing enough in voicing their opinions. The fiery cast do their best with each text, some scenes are extremely gripping and yet others leave a lot to be desired.

It is this fragmentation of ideas, values, cultures and genres that I found distracting about this production. Featuring work from writers across the globe (including Argentina, Iraq, USA and Romania) each of the eight plays are loosely linked by themes based on elections.

The first play, Implosion, sees a television presenter juxtaposed against a hospital worker in Argentina.

Argentine playwright, Ignacio Apolo, displays some poignant facts about the extreme class distinction in his country. Emma Buckley is excellent as the cold-hearted journalist presenting all the facts without any feeling.

When The War Came sees another use of contrast. This time it is between violent conflict and the disintegration of a couple’s relationship.

Grant Gillespie is excellent as the conflict obsessed Irishman who loses sight of the love he once had and replaces it with his desire for war.

The second act features Sweethearts, by Francine Volpe. Gracy Goldman and Kyla Davis play two young girls at the heart of a futile friendship.

Implied sexual abuse and racial tension give rise to some interesting issues, yet these are never really resolved by Volpe.

The closing piece, I Join Them, is by far the highlight of the evening. Taking a more satirical tone, Kyla Davis is excellent as the young Ukrainian living in New York.

Disappointed by her fellow countrymen’s lack of enthusiasm for political change, she returns to Ukraine to find her 'lazy, well-fed, ironic' friends leading the orange revolution.

Aptly named, Broken Voices is a more subtle approach to political activism. It won’t have you racing to the nearest picket line, but will have you thinking nonetheless!

Broken Voices – Implosion by Ignacio Apolo, When The War Came by Ursula Rani Sarma, The Error by Adania Shibli, Nine Tenths by Tena Stivicic, Sweethearts by Francine Volpe, Corpse of the President by Jawad Al Assadi, All These Guys Gianina Carbunariu and I Join Them by Natalya Vorozhbit. Starring Emma Buckley, Kyla Davis, Grant Gillespie, Gracy Goldman and Anthony Lewis. March 29 to April 23 at Tristan Bates Theatre, Tower Street, Covent Garden.

Photo: Tristram Kenton

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