Stratford Upon Avon
ALWAYS ORANGE: Fraser Grace
RSC: The Other Place until 27 August
Stratford Upon Avon
Runs: Approx 1h 15m, no interval
Tkts: 0844 800 1110
Review: Alexander Ray Edser, 7 August 2016
Reflecting a complex real-world dilemma
Reviewing REVOLT at the RSC I comment on the power of the playwright’s words to communicate her meaning. In ALWAYS ORANGE Fraser Grace’s focus is also on the power of the word; but his focus is that the power of, in this case the printed, word is the means by which we (Earth / Civilisation / Society) can save itself as a diverse culture. This at a time we are otherwise hell-bent on mutual destruction. Fraser Grace, however, doesn’t hold out much hope for us.
Grace sets his play in a present-day UK city (London) in the midst of terrorist suicide bombings. His concerns are both why do the bombing happen and how do the authorities react? In this internet age, Grace posits the idea the our cultures are recorded in our books, and if we could share our books, share our cultures, we would increase our mutual understanding. But the UK is seen in the throes of retrenchment, scaling back on arts and humanities and closing libraries. Neatly, Grace also glances at an Islamic teacher who fails to see the irony of using TOY STORY to teach children English, while working to bomb the hell out of us.
This is a complex thesis Grace explores; the occasional times when the playwright’s voice takes over from the characters’ is easily excused. Ifan Meredith, as Joe the protagonist, gives a terrific performance, drawing us into his nightmare world with energy, variety and passion.
You sense that Fraser Grace is acutely aware of the wider political context within which he writes; it’s a shame more politicians don’t go to the theatre.
Amma / Shameeena: Donna Banya
Niall: Sam Cole
No Name 1 / Parvendra: Bally Gill
Dolores / Jackie: Laura Howard
Farouk / Mr Ibrahim: Tyrone Huggins
Rusha: Syreeta Kumar
Joe: Ifan Meredith
Houida / Lorna / No Name II: Bianca Stephens
Director: Donnacadh O’Reilly
Designer: Madeleine Girling
Lighting Designer: Matt Peel
Sound Designer: Steven Atkinson
Movement Director: Juri Hael
Voice and Text Work: Anna McSweeney
Assistant Director: Guy Jones
Casting Director: Matthew Dewsbury