Review by Emma Whitelaw
LIKE the rude awakening of a gun to the head, the events that
unfold in Ciaran McConville’s new play, The Settling
Dust, now showing at The Union Theatre,
are poignantly disturbing.
When the truth is a little too close to home, it is all to easy
to put the blinkers on and pretend there’s nothing wrong.
Set in contemporary Sudan, the play charts the progress of CBS
producer, Nathan Haine, and camera-man, Harry Figarovsky, as they
fly into a southern town to pave the way for an interview with
local police supremo, Ajing Jupour.
Steven Beckingham plays Nathan, a confident, bordering on cocky,
producer, he is damn good at his job and will do anything to clinch
the story with Jupour.
He and Harry, played by Ruben Crow, go way back. They have known
each other since childhood, and after Harry lost his older brother
to illness, Nathan took him under his wing as a pseudo-big brother.
They arrive in Sudan and swiftly set to task. In his travels,
Figarovsky encounters refugee camp worker, Susan Fowler. Played
by the lovely Juliette Goodman, Fowler is a feisty young thing
and mistaking him for a UN worker, she gives Figarovsky a piece
of her mind.
Finding the situation both humorous
and intriguing, Harry asks Susan out on a date. Finding refuge
in each other from the severity and the loneliness of the vast
plains of the brutal desert, they soon become lovers.
Nathan, himself, finds love amidst the wasteland in the form
of Eleanor Holme, played by the talented Deborah Thomas.
Nathan tracks Eleanor down as part of his research for the big
interview. She is Nathan’s key into the personal life of
Jupour, being his daughter, Maria’s teacher.
Interestingly enough, it is through their encounters with the
three women; Susan, Eleanor and Jupour's daughter, Maria, that
the two newsmen are wound inevitably into a pattern of shockingly
The Settling Dust is an extremely well written, poignant
and arousing play.
The characters are both believable and accessible. The set and
costume design, too, add to the intensity of the play.
I particularly liked the way the stage was covered in sand; so
simple, yet extremely effective.
The Settling Dust will rip the comfort blanket from
beneath your feet and shed light on issues that are all too easily
kept in the dark.
The Settling Dust by Ciaran McConville. Directed by Jonathan
Bidgood and presented by Entropy Ink. Starring Steven Beckingham,
Ruben Crow, Deborah Thomas, Rex Obano, Jodie Scantlebury and Juliette
Goodman. March 8 – 24 at The Union Theatre, 204 Union Street,
Southwark SE1 0LX. Box office 020 7621 9876.