by Archie W Maddocks.
Orange Tree Theatre 1 Clarence Street TW9 2SA To 21 July 2012.
7.45pm Mat Sat 3pm.
Runs 1hr 35min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 8940 3633.
Review: Carole Woddis 10 July.
England divided in startling new play.
Something is rotten in the state of England plc. From top to bottom, we are riven with distrust and fear of the `other’.
At least, that is the theme of this startling new play from Archie W Maddocks, a product of the Orange Tree’s young writers group.
Maddocks has cast his young eye over last year’s `riots’ – he doesn’t like to call them that; he thinks it’s more complicated than the label would suggest – and what he sees around him is anger and above all, a lack of communication between people and groups.
He’s a Londoner so it may be his view is to some extent determined by a London bias, but I suspect his analysis is not far wrong when he puts last year’s upheavals down to misunderstanding, fear of the unknown and stereotyped preconceptions.
Maddocks says he is at pains to undercut stereotypes. To an extent, he succeeds. His young black `hoodie’, Thug (an extraordinary performance from Charles Mnene) is articulate, intelligent and terrifying. The Fight – Michael Elkin’s shaven-haired policeman – initially sounds like a White racist whilst Steven Elder’s Silver Tongue politician, every inch the emollient leader, carries just as much anger in his privileged public school veins as lie in Thug’s impoverished ones.
Gabeen Khan’s smooth Wolf, extolling the virtues of high art and birdsong, emerges as a dangerous extremist whilst Akiya Henry’s Sparkle, a young girl with little to lose in life except her bountiful hair and multi-coloured nails, breaks the heart caught between fear of her own and the machinations of government.
If there is a fault in an otherwise immaculate, beautifully simple but heightened production from Henry Bell, it is in Maddocks’ choice of monologues and his unrelieved pessimism. Strategically, he argues, the use of monologues underlines the inability of these groups to talk to each other. In dramatic terms, it leads to a sense of lecturing.
But not only does Maddock’s work carry terrific urgency; he also writes with great emotional and intellectual maturity, even handedness and metaphorical verve. Terrifically acted, Mottled Lines is a fine addition to the post-riot soul searching.
Silver Tongue: Steven Elder.
The Fight: Michael Elkin.
The Sparkle: Akiya Henry.
The Wolf: Gabeen Khan.
The Fear The Thug: Charles Mnene.
Director: Henry Bell.
Designer: Katy Mills.
Lighting: Stuart Burgess.
Mottled Lines ran at the Orange Tree Theatre Richmond 10-14 July 2012.