Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A family argument (Statement of Regret - National Theatre)

It is always uncomfortable seeing another's family argue amongst themselves, especially when you don't understand the background. Statement of Regret Kwame Kwei-Armah's new play at the National gave me that feeling. In effect an extended argument about what 'black' means in British politics today, as the kind of white bleeding heart liberal that the play at times mocks I feel ill-placed to make a judgement on its politics, I just wished it hadn't got in the way of the drama so much.

Anyway the key question is does it work as entertainment? Well I saw a preview so one has to bear that in mind, but to be frank not really. The first act takes far too long to set up the story of the Black think-tank head who is slowly coming apart at the seams and his staff who want to move beyond his focus on reparations for slavery to examine the issues affecting the black community today. What isn't the spikiest script in the world isn't helped by some really clunky directing and acting (Angel Coulby) . It was clear that several people were making an early exit at the interval, and we were severely tempted to join them. The second act picks up markedly with some real passion and humour being injected as everything starts to fall apart, but really this production never lifts off.

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