RSC Other Place
THIS season of compact one-act new writing arrives under a splendidly enticing banner: What is unsayable in the 21st century?
Four writers have been given carte blanche to ‘make mischief’ and, one presumes, tackle subjects that are taboo. Exciting times indeed.
In their search for this much-vaunted new ground these two plays fall over themselves to inhabit some very familiar territory. Predictably we are in London and we’re addressing the old problems of intolerance, inequality and injustice.
Fraser Grace’s Always Orange uses the reactions to terrorist bombings to re-hash views on why people are pushed to do these things and how survivors cope. It’s very nicely staged with paper and books falling onto the stage to create both chaos and the sense that this chaos is coming from an elsewhere we can’t control. There are engaging thoughts on the need to communicate, the value of books and even the restorative powers of an hour in the park, but nothing that would send an audience home feeling any theoretical line had been crossed.
Fall of the Kingdom, Rise of the Foot Soldier, by Somalia Seaton offers a great deal of noisy argument but is hampered by its staging and its structure. An eye-catching multi-level stage full of crates means the characters never really interact but stand apart. And the endless short-sentence, confrontational dialogue allows for no character development at all. Interestingly the racist bigots providing the underswell of discontent are not only faceless but have non-London accents – as stark an illustration of how comfortably ‘Islington’ this writing is. This is effectively a radio play – a shame given the opportunity putting it on the RSC’s versatile stage affords.
Across the ensemble company there are good strong contributions, notably from Ifan Meredith and Syreeta Kumar, and visually the plays look fine. But it is in the gap between the project’s aim and the resulting product that the problems lie. If there are things which are unsayable in our current times, then they are not being said here.
Visit www.rsc.org.uk for tickets and further details.