A reasonable performance, here at the International School of Tanganyika, of an excellent play by Rona Munro, who incidentally wrote the last multiple episode serial on the classic Doctor Who. She won the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for the play.
Written in 1990, it’s the story of four lower middle class women, living in Belfast, somewhere during the 1980s, during the time of the Troubles. Their men have either been killed or are in prison but occupy an important role in the story played out on the stage.
The focus is on three women who encounter a stranger in their midst. The obvious distrust, supposedly stemming from the social upheaval at the time, only partially obfuscates the underlying currents of fear. It is then, through the subsequent escalation through the presence of the stranger, that previously hidden, inconvenient and painful, truths are brought to the surface. Though this first results in emotional upheaval, it is turned around in to a sense of hope and comfort, implicitly due to the necessity of having to cope.
Essentially, the story is about the need to deal with the futureless existence that was life in the mid 80s for most of the lower middle class in western Europe.
The play is rather emotional and very well constructed, though I suspect that, at this premiere, the actors occasionally botched up parts of their dialogue. Claudia Kennedy as the less conventional Cassie, who ruffles up the status quo at the end of the play and teaches drama at IST, is the best performer in the play, though Monica Gorman, as Marie, the salt of the earth she is, also puts down an interesting performance, though its hard to gauge whether this is because she’s such a brilliant actor, or such a bad actor. The other two actors were Rita Bowen and the interestingly named Ee Crovetto, who once wrote an article for the Lowdown.
Except for Ee, who didn’t pretend, the other three actors put forward quite believable Irish accents (which my ear is becoming reasonably accustomed to).
The program came with an introduction by director Carolien van de Waal, and is a bit rich, suggesting that the story could have been set in any country suffering from war or struggling to overcome the destructive forces of flood or earthquakes. Though this applies to the barebones story, the setting and characters are decidedly northern European.
Van de Waal goes on to mention that Tanzania is politically stable and relatively prosperous. Tanzania scores 151st out of 182 on the Human Development Index. Then again, no less than 29 other African countries, more than half, score even lower.
Tanzania also scores 89th out of 165 on the Political Instability Index.