Theatre: What Shadows
Written by: Samuel Wood
Recent times have seen an unnerving surge in right-wing politics. President Trump’s campaign to ‘make America great again’ saw him make the audacious promise to ‘build a wall’. France saw the uneasy ascent of Marine Le Pen’s National Front in its general elections and Germany’s AfD, (the first openly nationalist party in almost six decades) celebrated an unprecedented third place victory in its recent elections.
Then there’s the UK – we’ve seen the rise and fall of UKIP, a bid for Scottish independence, an uncomfortable coalition with the nationalist DUP and who could forget, Brexit. At the very centre of all this is arguably the most contentious issue of our modern times – immigration.
Through the historical lense of Enoch Powell’s 1968 ‘rivers of blood’ speech, Chris Hannan’s timely play What Shadows attempts to deal with just that.
MP Powell’s provocative and much debated speech sparked outrage after he warned the influx of immigrants would destroy the UK’s national identity. The play itself is split across the decades, dealing with the events leading up to the infamous speech and years later when a young black Oxbridge professor attempts to ‘speak across the anger that divides us’ and understand Powell’s reasoning and intentions.
Surrounded by a solid ensemble of actors, Powell is played by Ian McDiarmid, known to many as Senator Palpatine in the Star Wars trilogies. McDiarmid’s performance is both detailed and nuanced, offering a finely tuned portrait of this most controversial figure. The plot offers an almost comprehensive history of the racial and cultural tensions surrounding immigration in the UK and forces the spectator to examine what shadows of racial prejudice might be lurking beneath the surface of their own being.
The show becomes somewhat of an intellectual exercise rather then entertainment however – bursting at the seams with characters, locations, time periods, subplots, and above all else – dialogue. Director Roxanna Silbert’s simple staging puts her trust in that dialogue with little use for any other theatrical storytelling techniques.
It seems despite a definite desire to say something with the play, Hannan has clouded his intentions with too much of – well – everything. A few careful edits would have gone a long way – cutting some of the extraneous could have helped the plays point sing a little more clearly.
That said, criticism for Hannan’s work has been aimed at a writer far beyond his years and experience, so I will say this for the piece; flawed yes, but an extremely bold and intelligent rendering overall – finely acted and well worth a watch.
What Shadows is on at Park Theatre, Finsbury Park until 28th October. Book tickets here.
Photos by Mihaela Bodlovic.
When danger reared its ugly head, Brave Sir Robin turned and fled… to his namesake pub on Crouch Hill for a craft beer and a top-notch meal from kitchen residency Cue Point. Warm globes of light hang above intimate booths, specially commissioned wall design offers a rich backdrop, and cosy sofas, deep armchairs and plentiful cushioned stools ensure no one is without a seat.
Flocking to Holloway Road on one of the many Sundays that we’ve spent at the Nag’s Head Car Boot Sale, we spotted a new Vietnamese place called Pho Hot getting ready to open up their doors. Being the nosy folks we are, we peeked inside and spotted a menu. Banh Mi was on it. It's a baguette, but not as you know it. Glory of all glories! It’s been far too long since I last consumed this distinctive sarnie and I'm happy as Larry that there's a new Banh Mi joint on my doorstep.
Baby, it’s getting cold outside, and what better way to aide our frostbitten noses than a chat to a professional skin person? We’re talking to Lee Garrett, founder of The Garrett Clinic, accomplished skincare specialist and heralded by many as the UK’s leading Skin Guru. Read on to find out his insider tips for surviving this winter season with your skin looking as radiant as the moon that breaks a stormy night.
Joined by over 50 other artists incorporating printmaking, painting, digital art, photography and small-scale sculpture, Tomorrow’s World presents us with utopias, dystopias, predictions, prophecies and visions of the future. We hit up the private view last Friday and it was pretty damn bleak, in the best sense of the word.
Carouse founders Chris, Theo and Ben – the charming folk behind Kentish Town’s Rose and Crown – have a new venture afoot and we couldn’t be more bloody excited to see it. We’ve been creeping in their windows, peering through the paint and sneaking glimpses at builders’ bums for a few months now (okay, maybe not the last one), watching these guys transform this cosy corner of Crouch Hill into a rather cool little boozer. Now they’re opening and everyone is invited. Come one, come all, and try all 20 of their beers on tap with us.
Last month I decided to try clubbing again. I don’t quite know what came over me, but I actually (brace yourselves) enjoyed it. I went to Body Hammer’s monthly party in Manor House and I’m here to tell you to go too, whether you love clubbing, hate clubbing, or really couldn’t care either way. #notspon
Rich, fried, buttery, potato-y vessels loaded with flavor combinations that go down rather well with craft beer, late nights and good times. Ha, who am I kidding, EVERYTHING goes down well with beer. You heard that right buddy, loaded potato skins are back with a bang (and a generous portion of bacon) and are currently being served at Old Street's The Magic Roundabout by street food pop-up Skins and we could not be any happier. Well, unless they were to stuff it with, say, Mac and Cheese or risotto. Oh, that's exactly what they do? Well paint me green and call me a cucumber.
Magical gifts, wonderful gifts, marvellous gifts, beautiful gifts, gifts, glorious gifts glo-ri-ous giiiiiifts. Please Sir, I want some more. It’s that time of year again and whether you love it or loathe it gifts will be purchased and presented into expectant hands. Stroud Green's very own Pretty Shiny Shop have compiled a gift guide to help ease the shopping shock. Imagine only having to trot to your local gift shop and tick off your entire shopping list in one fell swoop. Done, finito, terminado! To make it that little sweeter, it's also all very affordable... so you won't even have to pick a pocket or two.
Alright guys, it’s happening. The frosty charm of December is, once again, being beaten to a pulp by the capitalists’ wet dream: Christmas. The hideous twinkling of artificial outdoor lighting is starting to appear, with tourists flocking from far and wide to watch D-list celebrities press a button. Invitations to Christmas parties flood in from your multiple part-time jobs, ensuring you make bad decisions bi-weekly til next year. Supermarkets are selling 12-day advent calendars containing confetti, cookie cutters and candles for a flawless £50. And oh, how the mulled wine flows.
Who doesn’t love a cheeky statistic, correctly sourced? You know we do. Well, did you know that for every £1 spent with a small business, 63p is re-spent in the local area, as opposed to a measly 40p in every £1 re-spent locally with larger businesses? An absolute travesty, am I right? That 23p has to mean something, right, guys?! Guys? Guys, where are you going? Wait, there’s freebies involved too!
By gum there are a lot of winter markets this year. Fueled by sickly sweet mulled wine and overpriced pulled pork sliders, we’ve managed to wade our way through the murky waters of winter markets and find some decent looking ones round this here part of town. Don’t let our Grinch-esq vibes put you off (I’m more of a Pancake Day person myself) because, if you’re into markets, you’ll probably like these. Read on, if you’re merrier than us.
Take a short walk along Finsbury Park’s own sunset strip and you’ll find MoseyHome, an interiors retailer and styling consultancy who have invited us to collaborate with them on an exciting new series titled 'Style My Shop', in which they invite some of London's most talented interiors experts to quite literally style their shop. Interiors porn at it's finest.
Why was the snowman sad? Because he had a meltdown. Much like us, every year, when winter comes. It’s cold, it’s dark, and we know Christmas is on its way. But hey, it’s not all bad – the events round this time of year can be pretty swell. So don your scarf-shawl-blanket and get your frolic on, it’s time for fairy lights, scarfing mulled wine and stuffing your face!
Touch, taste, smell, hear and create art. Smith & Sinclair, purveyors of the Edible Cocktail, presents The Flavour Gallery: a multi-sensory adventure that’ll seduce your senses and tickle your taste buds beyond all imagination. Ooh matron!