by David Planell translated by Jo Clifford.
Arcola Theatre (Arcola 2) 24 Ashwin Street E8 3DL To 9 March 2014.
Runs 1hr 15min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7503 1646.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 23 February.
Bazaar and lottery, with an urgent sense of the importance of money.
Alongside the season of 17th-century ‘Golden Age’ Spanish dramas currently at the Arcola – originating at Bath’s Ustinov Studio and proceeding next month to Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre – the Arcola is presenting a series of Spanish-related events, including two long one-act plays.
David Planell’s title refers beyond the single stall where Moroccan immigrant Hassan plies a sort of business, to suggest his life in Spain is as transient as his premises.
Thing seem to take a turn for the better when his camcorder catches son Rashid’s friend Anton crashing his bike. A TV company picks the incident up, offering big bucks by these three’s standard, with mega-bucks in prospect if the piece reaches the programme’s competitive final.
At first the mood is comic, the lines drawn-up between young friends Anton and Rashid, the former wanting his friend’s help to obtain a receipt from the older man. The problem is, the crash is so clearly filmed that, on a second look, the TV company think it a put-up job. So Anton has to rerun the accident, faking it to make it look more realistic and spontaneous. In the course of which his bandaged hand from the accident proper expands to slings and blood.
Hassan shows himself a businessman as his offer of a 50:50 split on the proceeds from the TV company turns out to be less than it seems. And, with Planell manipulating matters mightily, the big prize flies out of the window (though Spanish audiences might relate this to their media companies’ commercial fortunes).
By the end, matters have darkened, and battle-lines are redrawn. When things go wrong financially, and the big plans fall apart, the Moroccans Rashid and Hassan draw together against Anton’s angry taunts. The racism and anti-immigrant mood of Europe emerges within this localised economic downturn, until the previously European dressed Hassan, takes to traditional Moroccan clothing as he is proudly photographed by his son.
There are roughnesses in acting and direction, but also a recognisable energy, making this a valuable glimpse of the drawing-down of nationalistic blinds in modern Western countries from a specific southern European perspective.
Hassan: Pezhmaan Alinia.
Anton: Christopher Neels.
Rashid: Matija Vlatkovic.
Director: Natalie Katsou.
Designer: Maria Kalamara.
Lighting: Rob Youngson.
Composer: Andrei Ionescu.
Assistant director: Todd Manley.
Assistant designer: Salomi Makaronidou.