Horizontal Collaboration. Traverse Theatre. Julia Pascal

It is static.  It is almost-radio theatre.  It is words, words, words.  It is magnificent.

David Leddy’s court room drama has no witnesses, the narrative is relayed by four actors who read blind from the transcripts of a UN tribunal.  The audience is forced to listen hard to the storytelling.  Although this is Africa we are learning about, the experience feels as like listening to Greek mythology.  However here there is no cathartic ending.

Four absent witnesses are brought to the scene by the four UN lawyers.  These  presences are  Judith K, a London-based chemist who is the wife of an African warlord, Mary X, her reality- show obsessed mother and her jealous bastard sister, Grace K.  The cumulative effect of this interview technique is to relay the terror of the mineral wars in Africa with their quotidian corruption, rapes, murders and commonplace treacheries.  It is a place where different male gangs fight it out for dominance.  It is life at the bone edge.

Leddy’s script is hard to listen to and utterly compelling.  The power is in the spareness of the form as much as the content.  Four actors reading from transcripts discover a world of hell.  That they read with no previous knowledge of the text, and of course, no rehearsal, means that we share their surprise and horror.  This is amazing theatre that works on the deepest level of listening and understanding.

The play is part of a Double Bill City of the Blind which is a downloadable drama.

Until 24 July.

Julia Pascal © 2014.