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Disturbing truth beneath The Settling Dust



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 explosive events.

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.

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