Writer: Remi Rachuba
Director: Marcus Montgomery Roche
Remi Rachuba stalks around the small stage, glaring at the audience. He signals the start of the performance sharply insisting mobiles are switched off. We find we’re a class of English-learners and, to our surprise, he starts teaching us insults and swear words. ‘It’s not a arsehole: it’s an arsehole,’ he explains fiercely. Any nervous giggling is met with a stern rebuke.
It’s a great start to a strange show based on Remi Rachuba’s experiences: teaching English first in his native Poland and ending up in Glasgow. Throughout he riffs on his real love – acting. He’s had a checkered stage career. There’s a lot of frenzied performance as a children’s entertainer which overlaps with a role in Pinocchio. He’s energetic, but there’s an edge. As he begins anecdotes, he’s constantly startled by interruptions – noises real or imaginary. He feels he’s being watched. Intruder/Intruz is shadowed by dark experiences of being attacked.
On the stage is a circle of shoes, from nondescript trainers to outrageous red heels. Remi nips around, pulling off what he’s wearing and struggling into different pairs to become a range of characters – everyone from his father to a female student he bumps into in a strip club. All this is fun and Remi is particularly entertaining when he switches into broad Glaswegian.
But the more challenging aspect of Intruder/Intruz is that it’s proudly bilingual, Polish/English. If you’re not a Polish speaker, it’s hard to know what to make of long parts of the show where Remi talks animatedly in his mother tongue. You desperately look for visual clues as to what he’s saying, but the temptation after a while is to tune out. There’s a relief in the final scene when Remi as no-nonsense English language teacher reappears to check on our knowledge of swear words.
But this framing of troubled experienced by frenetic surreal comedy makes the show’s overall structure even harder to follow. Is it really a personal exploration of mental illness, considering Remi’s long-term response to being physically assaulted? Or is it a fleshed-out comedy stand-up piece? We are left uncertain what to take away from Intruder/Intrudz.
Runs until 6 December 2022