THE COUP
Royal National Theatre (Cottesloe), London SE1
Opened 18 July, 1991

The subtitle A Play Of Revolutionary Dreams tips the wink: although the setting is Trinidad right down to the boxer shorts of one of the coup leaders, it's not necessarily the Trinidad. President Eddie Jones, whose masterly divide-and-regain-rule campaign from his prison cell is portrayed by Norman Beaton with both statesmanlike gravitas and wry acerbity, bears purely coincidental resemblance (honest) to the father of Trini independence, Dr Eric Williams; and none of Trinidad's attempted coups were ever quite this comical.

The comments upon the national character and the colonial legacy are sugared by familiar routines culminating in a glorious version of the "supposedly dead man under the sheet joining in the conversation" chestnut. Perhaps it's just a soggy liberal doubt on my part that a Brit bourgeois audience isn't going to have the residue of its imperial attitudes questioned. Writer Mustapha Matura and director Roger Michell have crafted a knowing, affirmative and fun evening, but one whose beef is a little underdone.

Written for City Limits magazine.

Copyright Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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