by Greg Lyons.
Eastern Angles Tour to 22 October 2011.
Runs 30min No interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 28 September at The Brewery Tap.
Theatre of the community, (more or less) by the community, for the community.
It may be a lot to expect people to turn out for a half-hour play, but Eastern Angles, in the third year of its 5-year Peterborough project, is looking to very local audiences. It’s likely to be more a matter of calling in than going out, and crossing the road to see Crossed Keys could be literal for some. Ticket prices, at £3, or two for a fiver, are hardly pocket-stretching.
Show timings and the play’s brevity mean a sociable add-on is a strong possibility. Like previous Angles work here, Greg Lyons’ one-acter uses an iconic part of Peterborough’s fabric, a part of its coat-of-arms, also laid-out in paving on the civic-sounding Alderman’s Drive.
It’s here two workers, Michael from Northern Ireland and Hussein, are seen early on planning the paving. Michael, whose knowledge of saints and the religious symbolism of keys, seems almost supernatural, is surprised at seeing Shahruk with her face covered according to Muslim convention.
An opening scene has made clear she and Hussein are partners and that she rejects the niqab. Subsequent scenes show how the tension the veil represents has arisen, while there’s an implication Michael might turn out an angel unawares in the final resolution.
Told economically in Kate Budgen’s production, with room-lighting and a simple set of screens backing the performance area, the piece is impressive for suggesting the city’s cultural variety without making it an issue. People from different backgrounds co-exist naturally; the threat that disrupts Shahruik and Hussein’s lives comes from within their own cultural tradition.
Mariam Haque and John Bosco show how fears can invade a relationship, while Aidan Dooley moves from the confidence of the more experienced worker through shyness when Shahruk appears, to a downbeat ending. His is the harder job for having to move from assertive speeches on the keys theme early on towards the sidelines, with no strong connection to the story of the other two. He acquits the task well.
Clearly told, as story and performance, it’s a piece that should find resonances as it travels round the city’s venues, schools – and a prison.
Shahruk: Mariam Haque.
Hussein: John Bosco.
Michael: Aidan Dooley.
Director: Kate Budgen.
Designer: Louie Whitemore.
Sound: Penny Griffin.