CHANGING THE SILENCE
The Base, London SE5
Opened 8 November, 1990

Using African myths and theatrical traditions to occupy the dramatic ground somewhere between a circus fable and Animal Farm, this portrayal of racial and cultural domination sometimes falls prey to the very problems it tries to explore. A chunky mixture of song, theatre and movement is used to present both the divide-and-rule strategies of the colonists and the varied ideals of freedom cherished by the oppressed; between these two camps moves the quisling overseer, trying to maintain good relations with both sides without being savaged by either. This collaborator is the real focus of the drama, and it's his ultimate questioning that provides the climax to the action. But the questions aren't fully articulated. We're shown that conflicts exist, without an inkling of how to go about lessening or resolving them; we're left at square one. The advice of Romeo (the fox in sheep's clothing) to "keep asking Why?" isn't one that the play itself follows.

Written for City Limits magazine.

Copyright Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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