Checkpoint Chana, 3***, London


by Jeff Page.


The Finborough Theatre, 118 Finborough Road, London SW10 9ED to 20 March 2018.
Sun & Mon 7.30pm Tues 2pm.
Runs 70 mins No interval.

TICKETS: 0844 847 1652
Review: William Russell 5 March.

Words matter – think what you intend to say before saying it.

The thorny problem of just what is permissible to say, to write, to discuss is at the heart of this short but interesting play. Bev is a middle aged poet, an academic she is successful, but she drinks, and when drunk her tongue can run away with her. She has a devoted PA, a young would be poet, on whom she relies. Her father is dying, a poem she has written about an incident at an Israeli checkpoint has caused outrage. She is a long time supporter of Palestine, but simply fails to grasp why people are so outraged, or why she is being accused of anti-Semitism.

In the poem about an Israeli guard searching some woman’s handbag on a hot, wearisome day she likens it to a search by a Nazi. For Bev it is using words to capture the scene, for others it is anti-Semitic and something to be condemned. Her PA tries to make her see she must apologise and the play is about how Bev is persuaded to attempt that.

It is a fascinating dilemma because however blinkered Bev may be those who see in her poem the anti- Semitism they accuse her of are arguably just as blinkered. As Bev Geraldine Somerville gives a fine performance, all raw nerves, self pity, and impossible drunken bad behaviour, a woman walking unknowingly to disaster.
Jeff Page has posed some fascinating questions, although the scene with the Jewish journalist who at the behest of her PA comes to conduct a hopefully helpful interview is much too short. He briefly records their conversation, she reads out the text of a message of regret she has issued as a press notice, and that is it. No interview actually takes place. He learns nothing he could possibly write up to help her case. Nor does the suggestion by her PA that Bev might – drunk she has insulted her boss she gets fired – have a media career quite work.
Her situation would have had Newsnight and all the rest clamouring for her to appear. She is the very model of a media person provided she is sober. The playing is good, the arguments worth listening to and the need to watch one’s words, all the more necessary in a world of on line instant comments, is undeniable.

Tamsin: Ulrika Krishnamurti.
Bev: Geraldine Somerville.
David: Matt Mella.
Michael: Nathaniel Wade.

Director: Manuel Bau.
Designer: Dausy Blower.
Lighting Designer: Jamie Playy.
Sound Designer: Simon Arrowsmith.

2018-03-07 16:00:17

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