Young Vic, London SE1
Opened 23 October, 2001

*** Undistinguished production of a still relevant play

Max Frisch's fable about intolerance hasn't been seen inLondon since 1964; sadly, Gregory Thompson's production does it few favours.

The story tells of Andrí, brought up believing himself to be a Jew and exposed to the prejudices of those around him until he begins to assume the role expected of him. It is not an especially subtle or complex tale, and part of the chilly reception given to this revival may be that we simply think ourselves above this sort of remonstrance: we are secretly outraged that anyone might impugn our liberal sensibilities in this way, even as we seem to be showing exactly these sort of prejudices towards Islamists. The play does not deserve such hostility.

Unfortunately, it deserves rather more than director Thompson (of fringe company AandBC) brings to it. He astutely casts so that the Andorrans are of all ethnic groups, and even include a thalidomide-armless actor (Mathew Fraser); the "otherness" of the supposed Jew Andrí is thus outwardly invisible. But this is the kind of production which proves that, with the best will in the world, thoughtfulness is not enough to deliver a charged, compelling staging; moreover, he badly muffs the between-scenes speeches of defence given by the Andorrans. Not so bad, then, but not at all special either.

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Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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