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
Photo: Tristram Kenton