by Arthur Milner.
Finborough Theatre above Finborough Wine Café 118 Finborough Road SW10 9ED To 23 March 2013.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat, Sun 3pm.
Runs 1hr 30min No interval.
TICKETS: 0844 847 1652 (24hr no booking fee).
Review: Timothy Ramsden 9 March.
Demonstrating facts, like the truth, can be rarely pure and never simple.
It’s right that playwright Arthur Milner (or director Caitlin McLeod) has each of this play’s characters first seen silently alone on stage. For though Palestinian policeman Khalid joins secular Jewish detective Yossi interrogating Zionist fundamentalist Danny over the murder of an American archaeologist in the West Bank, each occupies his own territory of ideas.
The murder has larger implications, rooted in religion and stretching to the justification for the state of Israel. As the policemen overcome their initial caution towards each other – particularly Michael Feast’s Yossi, signalling impatience as he waits, feet on table, for Khalid to arrive – mutual professional respect binds them through an unsustainable piece of mutual miscasting, the reasonable Khalid playing ‘bad cop’, the impulsively overpowering Yossi trying to seem benign.
There’s no such miscasting in McLeod’s production. Philip Arditti’s Khalid shows in the opening mimed border-search he knows he’s merely an Arab to the Israeli authorities, while his concerned looks at Yossi’s methods come near alarm at times. The character’s maybe too good at moments, as if Milner doesn’t want to criticise a Palestinian character.
Feast, with the explosive potential of a British Jack Nicholson, as always fits his intensity to the character like a fist in a glove. ‘Good cop’ or not, it’s only moments before he has their suspect in a neck-lock and by the end it’s as likely a matter of luck as deliberate intent he doesn’t kill him.
Which it would have been difficult to condemn, given Paul Rattray’s controlled display of concentrated arrogance as the man who might have murdered the Professor. Everything about him is well-fed, fresh-faced confidence, from the quiet speech to the commanding religious statements, from the calm deflection of evidence to the cocky defiance of racial assurance, finally accompanied by his arrogant stance.
Around the interrogation McLeod’s Arditti and Feast have moments enjoying their suspect retailing the story they’d expected of him. If the play doesn’t spell-out the facts of what happened, these actors make it an often-gripping example of how academic research can mix explosively with politics in those ‘Galileo’ moments when research questions long-established beliefs.
Khalid: Philip Arditti.
Yossi: Michael Feast.
Danny: Paul Rattray.
Director: Caitlin McLeod.
Designer/Costume: Georgia Lowe.
Lighting: Elliot Griggs.
Sound/Composer: Tegid Cartwright.