Writer: Anders Lustgarten
Director: Jack Nurse
Reviewer: R. G. Balgray
Lampedusa: the small Italian island whose name hit the headlines when it emerged as the landing point for boat-borne migrants travelling across the Mediterranean from Libya and beyond. Here, the play by Anders Lustgarten dramatising aspects of its situation and some of the many issues it raises.
In the theatre-in-the-round space that is the Circle Studio, a young audience watched two actors, Louise Mai Newberry and Andy Clark – powerfully perform the dual narratives of Stefano and Denise. One an Italian Fisherman; the other working her way through her degree by tracking down payday loan defaulters.
The minimalist set design – sand, with the occasional simple prop – highlights the claustrophobic nature of their lives. While their diverse backgrounds illustrate the connectedness we all face in our brave new globalised world. Stefano can only find work collecting the endless floating corpses; and Denise efficiently dispenses her own brand of rough justice within our own economic microculture. For this play is certainly polemic – as well as passionate, emotive and highly committed. It is at its most powerful in exploring what is deeply abhorrent about each character’s life. However, credit to its cast, who also manage depth and subtlety in evoking sympathy for what we can often see as xenophobia, racism, or just plain small-mindedness. Along the way, the play also manages to develop a cutting analysis of what passes for social welfare, while maintaining a pervading sense of humanity throughout. No small achievement in little more than an hour.
Runs until 18 November 2017 | Image: Contributed