by David Edgar.
Cockpit Theatre Gateforth Street NW8 8EH In rep to 30 November 2014.
7.30pm 28 November.
2.30pm 30 November.
Runs 2hr 25min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7258 2825.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 23 November.
A play crowded with incident still makes its political points.
Of the three David Edgar plays Burning Coal theatre has transported from North Carolina to the Cockpit, Pentecost (1994) is the one with the most activity accompanying its political discussion. Overall, it shows nothing is holy. An old church has become the focus for art historians after a medieval fresco is found. There’s argument over its historical significance (which could reshape art history), and what it might indicate of people’s movements in the later Middle Ages – linked to how such context alters its monetary value. The speculation on how it came about is a kind of pre-figuring of Tom Stoppard’s discussion of cultural significance and interpretation in Arcadia.
But the church is suddenly occupied by people with more immediate concerns about the movement of people. Escapees from the Balkan conflict, they are willing to treat the visitors as hostages. Two things become clear. The highest-minded academics can exploit humanitarian gestures. And alliances crumble when self-interest supervenes.
The first of these is used for a surprise plot-development. The second requires a lot of setting-up with colourful folk customs and beliefs being demonstrated during a rather long lull in the action. Either performances or – more likely –direction need tightening-up here, for the squabbling when the oppressed are divided into the saved and the deserted is a sharply-made point which has seemed a long time coming.
Individual performances make the dilemma of the asylum-seekers clear. Looked down upon by the art-work which is itself doomed – like so many – by the struggles of the day – it’s the human immediacy of an untidy world, with its prams and luggage and urgent arguments, that takes over, leaving more eternal considerations in the background.
This busy element is caught well in Jerome Davis’s production and there are performances, such as Jeanine Frost’s Jasmine, which make clear the priority of essential human concerns. If the production overall has less of a pulse than the other two Edgar revivals here, it is because this is the largest, most complex of these plays, and a busy piece in what has been a busy – and welcome – season at the Cockpit.
Leo Katz: Brian Linden.
Czaba/Nico: Tim X Davis.
Oliver Davenport: Marc Carver.
Grigori/1st Soldier: Jeff Aguiar.
Pusbas/Abdul/Swedish man: Jon Fitts.
2nd Soldier/Command: Rajeev Rajendran.
Bojovic: Greg Paul.
Karolyi: Matthew Hagar.
Gabriella Pecs: Hope Hynes Love.
Restorer/Commando: Joey Heyworth.
Anna Jedlikova/Amira: Julie Oliver.
Marina: Maggie Lea.
Raif/Restorer: Max Hanau.
Antonio: Gil Faison.
Czaba’s Secretary/Fatima: Rebecca Bossen.
Yasmin: Jeanine Frost.
Tunu: Steph Scribner.
Cleopatra/Restorer: Madeline Kvale.
Toni Newsome/Teen Girl: Mikaela Saccoccio.
Restorer/Policeman: Matthew Lubin.
Director: Jerome Davis.
Designer: Matthew Haber.
Lighting: Matthew Adelson.
Sound/Composer: John Heitzenrater.
Dialect coach: Kirby Wahl.
Choreographer: Mikaela Saccoccio.
Dramaturg: Marshall Botvinik.
Assistant director: Stephen M Eckert.
Assistant designer: Fiona Kearns.