WATCHING FOR DOLPHINS
Tricycle Theatre, London NW6
Opened 14 November, 1991

Shoe-horned into a late-night slot is John McGrath's thoughtful-comic one-woman piece on "whither socialism in 1991?". Reynalda Ripley (Elizabeth MacLennan), an ex-teacher in the Supertramp culture where liberalism is a filthy concept, is about to open a B&B in North Wales: practising her cartoon-Taff persona and reflecting upon her own and the world's political histories (with odd, stagey piano punctuation).

MacLennan seems more at home with the musings; her scatty cooking frenzies (Mrs Beeton-but-unbowed) jell with the rest neither of the character nor of the performance. In the closing phase the disparate elements knit, as Ripley resolves that the principles of socialism remain compelling and that you do what you can, wherever you are; her imagined dialogue with two guests a German judge and an American corporate veep ends the play on a switchback of humour and terror. It's important that the theatre still present such views, but the dramatic consistency feels lumpy rather than excitingly chunky. Pity.

Written for City Limits magazine.

Copyright Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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