Writer: Verbatim with Carol Ann Duffy
Director: Rufus Norris
Reviewer: John Roberts
Playing for just three nights at the Liverpool Playhouse before Easter weekend, the National Theatre should by all accounts be playing to sold out houses at the Liverpool Playhouse, but this is just not the case with their current UK tour of My Country; a work in progress.
Could the stalls be so empty because of the show’s slightly misleading title? Could it be the people of the UK are sick to the back teeth of talking about Brexit? Or could it be that the show that purports to share the voices of the UK is touring the North West, yet the voices of this region seem altogether missing from every aspect of the production? Whatever the answer really is, it doesn’t stop Rufus Norris and Carol Ann Duffy’s “verbatim” production to be full of raging stereotypes and political naval gazing that doesn’t give us anything new to the already over analysed Brexit debate.
My Country; a work in progress tries to shoehorn far too many voices into the mix of the play, which leaves the hard working ensemble of six to play broad stroke stereotypes that leave nothing to the imagination, from the belting tenor voice of the Welshman to the swearing, loudmouthed Geordie, it’s clear that Norris has gone for the cheap shot, the easy way out, and as a result alongside Duffy’s text gives the whole production a scattered, almost schizophrenic feel.
Putting the negatives aside, there are some delightful and witty moments, but these come from a clever selection of text from the original interviews, rather than an enlightened moment in the writing or from the rehearsal process.
Verbatim theatre by its very essence should want to explore, to bring about debate, to make us question our own feelings about a given subject using the words of people who have lived through it. It should enlighten us, engage us and challenge us – sadly the fact that for the past two years every British person has lived through this debate on a daily basis makes the production almost superfluous in its very existence.
Runs until 13 April 2017 | Image: Sarah Lee