Bush Theatre, London W12
Opened 24 July, 1992

The title stands for all kinds of resurrections: the unification of Germany as the Wall comes down, reconciliation between an estranged father and daughter, the possible rebirth of an old relationship.

Red Army Faction-type radical-turned-media brat Bruno travels east to his ex-lover Renata, in "asylum" after perpetrating a car-bombing 20 years ago; but as the West bids to engulf her, Bruno offers her a meeting with her father (an expatriate American jazz trumpeter now living in dereliction in Hamburg) in exchange for her silence over his own terrorist involvement. But the ashes from which the phoenix must emerge have yet to stop glowing: not only is Renata virtually unable to express regret for her actions, but Bruno passionately defends the revolutionary attitude against his cold-warrior father-in-law's vitriolic lust for retribution – and, of course, still harbours feelings for her.

Roy MacGregor, following up his revelatory début at the Bush last year with Our Own Kind, explores the intricacies of interconnecting questions of ideology, pragmatism, personal ties and even music (thoughtful punctuation between scenes from various phases of Miles Davis's history) with penetrating awareness and an admirable refusal to draw conclusions. Nick Dunning's Bruno is an engaging creation of sardonicism overlaying a less brittle core, and Dominic Dromgoole's direction as densely (and quietly) patterned as the script. All the phoenixes here are finally revealed as myths, but the play is a definite hit.

Written for City Limits magazine.

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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