A FEW MAN FRIDAYS
by Adrian Jackson.
Riverside Studios (Studio 2) Crisp Road Hammersmith W6 9RL To 10 March 2012.
Mon-Sat 7.45pm Mat Sat 2.30pm.
Runs: 2hr 45min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 8237 1111.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 18 February.
Showing more isn’t always helpful, but with a good story to tell.
Trust Cardboard Citizens to find a big issue. And one their audiences generally are unlikely to know about. Chagos islanders anyone?
What Westminster Council did with likely Labour voters some years ago – shoving them out to make room for incoming Tory-voting types (the Citizens have this in their sights) – is small-beer compared with the Chagos. Their Indian Ocean islands were wanted for military use by America in the 1960s. But the islands, some way south of the Maldives, belonged to the British.
The Americans got their way. The Chagossians were dispersed, many to Mauritius, some to Crawley, where they campaign to return, while keeping their Kreol language alive. The largest island, Diego Garcia, is in military use; over 60 more remain uninhabited.
Cardboard Citizens, working with homeless people, have already considered military use of a homeless man’s body in Mincemeat. An exhilarating experience, it was also a promenade production spread over several floors of an East London factory. Fridays sits us in a conventional theatre-space and parades its bag of tricks before us.
It’s written and directed by Adrian Jackson, who doesn’t put an individual foot wrong, but trips himself up with an excess of rich invention. A dramaturg or separate director might have encouraged selection, realising not every good idea can be included. With dramatic scenes as with human teams, overall impact can be lessened by too much brilliant individuality.
Jackson uses contemporary cinema’s method of presenting separate fragments that only finally add-up. When they do, and the opening events are placed within a fuller context, the effect is strong. Until then the disparate sections can be frustrating. It helps when the drawn-out history of politico-military convenience swings into something less black-and-white as the islanders’ return is set against preserving their islands’ coral reefs.
Finally, theatre surrenders to film and sound to silence as Chagossian Prosper, rather effortfully linked to Shakespeare’s Prospero, seems to swim home into the rare depths. It’s a theatrical device. Resolving life’s competing demands is a lot less easy, as this awkwardly constructed, sometimes meandering but ultimately revealing piece shows in its highly individual way.
Counsellor/Irene Fricke/Congressman Winn: Johanna Allitt.
Conservationist/Admiral Moorwer/Jeffery Kitchen/Eric Sands/Congressman Lee Hamilton/John Todd: Alasdair Craig.
Madame Talate/Belinda Green/George T Churchill/Lynne Sands/Peter: Sharon Duncan-Brewster.
Pere Dussercie/Teacher of Kreol/Marie Therese Min/Benoit Renoir: Josian Fauzou.
Stu Barber/Bob Hope/M Moulinie/Rolf Fricke/Commander Gary Sick: Tom Hodgkins.
Prosper: Ansu Kabia.
David Ottoway/Paul Nitze/E H Peck/S S Mandary/K Young: Nicholas Khan.
Lecture Attenders/Airport Queuers/Internet Nutters/Community Play Participants/Arisers from the Dead: Jamal Abubaker, Mohammed Arfan, Miguel Barros, Inderjit Batra, Ayomide Bodunrin, Kieran das Gupta, Edward Davies, Ester Escolano, Nick Fern, Chris Holland, Markus Junior, Vincent Moran, Kerry Norridge, Beatriz Pinto, Jamie Rrivera Downey, Richard Rushton, Fi-Fi Russell, Ben Smithies, Zviad Sokhadze, Shane Tanner, Melanie Vickers, Patricia Walsh, Yvonne Wickham.
Dancers from the Sega Chagos Archipelagos Rainbow Youth Club: Jenny Edmond, Annabella Florian, Anouchka Marisson, Hengride Permal, Emilie Sagai.
Director: Adrian Jackson.
Community Participation Director: Tony McBride.
Designer: Fred Meller.
Lighting: Natasha Chivers.
Sound/Music: David Baird.
Movement/Choreographer: Sarah Levinsky.
Voice coach: Tim Charrington.
Assistant director: Cheryl Gallacher.