Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Downtown Paradise

Welsh Fargo Stage Company , Chapter, Cardiff , September-14-14
Downtown Paradise by Welsh Fargo Stage Company Wherever there is injustice there will be those who rise up to meet it, among them will be some whose rage is so towering that reason and rationale are blown away in the storm.

Hearts rule heads in Downtown Paradise when radical lawyer, Rachel Bloom finds her professional barriers swept aside as she becomes emotionally entwined with her client, jailed Black Panther leader, James Wilson.

Bloom feels her Jewish heritage gives her some insight into Wilsonís cause and her enthusiasm for the challenge of liberating him causes her to turn a blind eye to the more extreme shades of his ideology. She finds herself becoming more and more involved with her client on a personal level, finally abandoning all pretence of aloofness and giving in to her passions.

Wilson, for his part, never abandons his aims and approaches this strange and artificial relationship with his eyes wide open; initially swept up in Bloomís enthusiasm but inevitably increasingly frustrated by her stage-managing of his persona and ambitions.

For just two people to maintain this tension and pace in a full-length play is a challenge, but one made easier by some superb writing from Mark Jenkins and outstanding performances from Habib Nasib Nader as James Wilson and Catriona James as Rachel Bloom.

Jenkinsí gift for dialogue and his obvious enthusiasm for his subject has produced a tremendously powerful play in which he has successfully interpreted the fury of the Black Panther movement and the inevitable consequences of attempting to attack the might of United States power head on.

Bloomís character by contrast displays the unintentional arrogance of privilege in claiming to share even a square foot of common ground with the man she has chosen to represent.

A sparse set where most of the action takes place in Wilsonís prison cell helps to create some insight into his claustrophobic existence, where he can do little but sit and wait as his lawyer flits in and out keeping him posted on what the world beyond the walls is thinking.

This play is the latest production by the Welsh Fargo Stage Company and is directed by Michael Kelligan. Downtown Paradise is at Taliesin Arts Centre, Swansea on Thursday, September 18, Newport Riverfront on Thursday, September 25 and Neuadd Dwyfor, Pwllheli on Thursday, October 2.

Reviewed by: Bob Rodgers

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