Theatre in Wales

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Brilliant performances save the day!

My Country; A work in progress

English National Theatre , Sherman Theatre , May-02-17
My Country; A work in progress by English National Theatre My Country, a work in progress. I guess it always was and always will be. Directed by the National Theatre’s artistic director, Rufus Norris who takes a minimalist approach, with the whole thing brought together by Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy the evening has some moments of rewarding theatre, this is mainly thanks to the wonderful cast.

But the ‘EU’, Brexit, “them coming over here taking our jobs” and that mysterious thing sovereignty! We have been hearing them on the tele for months now and here they are thrown at us, albeit gently, as an evening’s entertainment.

“The National Theatre sent, in the days following the Brexit vote, a team of ten people who spoke to people nationwide, aged 9 to 97, to hear their views on the country we call home. In a series of deeply personal interviews, they heard opinions that were honest, emotional, funny, and sometimes extreme.” It is these words that make up the main body of the entertainment, engaging it ain’t, well not all the time. It is to the very great credit of the cast that we do have quite a bit of enjoyment.
Each actor represents one of the regions from where quotations have been collected apart from Penny Layden, who as Britannia, complete with shining helmet, spiked staff and Union Jack shield, is our chair for the evening and adds a touch of satire speaking the words of our leading politicians.
She calls together: Caledonia, an easy-going, highly amusing and very captivating performance from Stuart McQuarrie. Swansea based Christian Patterson, Cymru, is in fine singing voice and really hilarious giving us quotes from children with an innocent look on his face and high pitched, charming expressions.
Laura Elphinstone as North East captures the accent and adds a compelling note of innocence. There’s a lot more dynamism from Seema Bowri as she speaks up for the East Midlands. Cavan Clarke’s Northern Ireland is even very cheerful at times. The team is completed by Adam Ewan’s versatility and humour as the South West. They all have fun with the inevitably non-narrative nature of the piece and they enable us to join in the fun with them.
Their biggest success was in making me forget how boring all this EU stuff has become. The programme made very interesting reading.
The work was created in collaboration with Citizens Theatre - Glasgow, Curve - Leicester, Derry Playhouse, Live Theatre - Newcastle upon Tyne, National Theatre Wales, Sage - Gateshead, Strike A Light Festival - Gloucester, in association with Cusack Projects Limited.
The production tours until June 19 when it will make its final performance at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East.

Reviewed by: Michael Kelligan

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