A REAL HUMANE PERSON WHO CARES AND ALL THAT
by Adam Brace.
Arcola Theatre (Arcola 2) 27 Arcola Street E8 2DJ To 19 December 2009.
Mon-Sat 8.15 Mat 12,19 Dec 3.30pm.
Runs 1hr 20min No interval.
TICKETS 020 7503 1646.
Review: Carole Woddis 27 November 2009.
Humour wins through.
We’re back in post-Iraq/Afghanistan territory with Adam Brace, a former journalist who subsequently wrote the stunning Stovepipe. A hit of last year’s Edinburgh Fringe, Humane Person has nothing like the same intensity or narrative drive, though there are still things to savour. In a sense, you can see it as a dry run for Stovepipe, which showed a huge jump forward in terms of ambition, structure and dialogue.
The title is of course ironic. There’s nobody in Brace’s cast of characters who is either humane or cares much. Brace seems to have a fairly dyspeptic view of human nature.
Where the later play was concerned with security guard mercenaries here we are in the presence of a collection of Brit ex-pats and embassy staff, one of them a dodgy blind businessman with connections to a local warlord. There is also an ailing ambassador.
Into this cosy presence land three British journalists, ostensibly to cover a British Council writers’ tour. Brace’s writing immediately acquires a hard-edged, mordant quality. He knows the way the journalist mind works, the dodgy motives, while Daniel Edgely (Daniel McGowan), Charles Lansdowne (Benjamin Peters) and Madeline Stoop (Tiffany Wood) have the gritty taste of authenticity about them.
When they go missing Brace’s intention is to show the competing loyalties of the ambassador’s attempts to secure the hostages’ release and the businessman’s to retain his local connections, which, he argues, have produced jobs and benefits for the local people.
It’s an issue that sadly carries a good deal of relevance given recent headlines and the Foreign Office’s continuously-stated policy of refusal to negotiate ransom money. Brace tries to give us a picture of the murky dealings that lie behind such statements, but it never acquires total conviction.
What makes the play watchable is, once, again the author’s humour and the fact that all the characters are played by the trio of actors with great versatility. We’ll be hearing more from Brace.
The production, by Jamie Harper, winner of the 2006 James Menzies-Kitchin Directors’ Award and current Associate Director at the Rose Theatre, Kingston is clever, neat and economical.
Gerry Kingsholme/Gareth Stradey/Daniel Edgely: Daniel McGowan..
Francis Welford/Neil M Field/Charles Lansdowne: Benjamin Peters..
Celine Kingsholme/Fiona Franklins/Madeline Stoop: Tiffany Wood.
Director: Jamie Harper.
Designer: Bronia Housman.
Lighting: Michael Nabarro.
Sound: Ed Borgnis.
The production was dedicated to the memory of Michael Smith and presented by Rested Theatre Company. The Producers were Bailey Lock & Benjamin Peters.