Wednesday, April 15

England People Very Nice Click for more info

Immigration is always a tough topic to tackle in a play. EPVN approaches it using humour, quite the risk considering how easily it could have been misunderstood by the audience. However since it actually tells the story of four different waves of immigration into London (French Protestants, The Irish, Russian Jews and Sylheti Lascars) it manages to get away with it.

The downside of all this action is that it took way too long to cover it all. The play weighed in at a massive three hours with a 15 minute interval (quite possibly the longest play I've ever seen). The final group got most of the face time, their story spanning almost a century (from the World Wars to the London bombings); I reckon the Bangladeshis alone could have had their own play.

As well as being funny EPVN was pretty relevant too. It took the same "play within a play" route that others seem to be taking; this was a production put on by modern immigrants, each waiting for the decision on whether they get their leave to stay or not. Mentions of things like Facebook and sufism vs wahabism give the play a thoughtful and contemporary feel and so it feels well placed to make the comment that it does.

The Olivier Theatre is really impressive, if not in the legroom area - a much bigger concern than usual because of the sheer length of the play. On stage we were treated to various costumes rather than complicated sets, although the generous use of projected animation was well-done and added some charm to the production.

Overall though the play was way too long. It managed to stuff a lot in there, but this was at the cost of my attention span; as mentioned above EPVN could easily have been split into two. But not really, since the first three stories of immigration provide some kind legitimacy for the final one and they wouldn't have really worked otherwise. The length is enough for EPVN to just miss out on a recommendation, but if you do go to watch just make sure you can bear the three hours.