Posts Tagged Electric Theatre

Blood Orange

bloodorangeAug 19-24
1 hour
Suitability: 16+ (Guideline)
Group: Electric Theatre Workshop

This play, written and directed by Graham Main, is centred around a Scottish Defence League (SDL) demonstration against the opening of a Mosque in Dumfries. The SDL are an organisation which asserts that they counter Islamic extremists but who their opponents claim are racist or even ‘Nazi’.

The SDL is represented in the form of ‘Mole’. Mole is a skinhead (almost inevitably!) who seeks to manipulate the psychological insecurities and needs of those around him to political purpose. His life, and those on whom he preys, are set to a club beat with drugs and casual sex providing most of the highs.

Why is ‘Mole’ the way he is? Curiously, he is the only character whose psychological insecurities are not explored in the play. That’s maybe not surprising as he is the baddy, presented as an animal. The Nazis compared Jews to rats. This writer doesn’t use that metaphor instead plumping for a burrowing, underground creature. The effect is the same – dehumanisation of the ‘other’, ‘the enemy’.

Mole does not have any valid points. His criticisms of Islam are just pure bigotry without any foundation. Mole has no redeeming qualities. He is a pantomime villain. I half expected the audience to hiss and boo every time he appeared!

Mole seeks to manipulate Zander into murdering a Muslim. Zander scapegoats Muslims for the suicide of his mother. Mole befriends and rapes Jasmine (the anorexic and vulnerable girlfriend of Zander). Those around Mole are presented as weak, easy victims. Is it any wonder that others (whether Mole or Labour) need to think for them!

Once it has been established that Mole is thoroughly evil the play starts to promote the idea that violence is the solution: ‘if only someone could do something about that Mole the world would be a better place’. That’s the point where I get really uneasy about this story. It gets worse.

Mole is murdered in a wish fulfilment sequence. Zander is described as a ‘warrior’ or like a ‘soldier’. Cue Jasmine: “It’s over now“. It never is like that with violence, however. It is never over so simply. One brutal act just is the first step to the next. Tit for Tat is a simple game that is quickly learned. Ask the people of Northern Ireland!

There is great and passionate acting and enthusiasm for their cause in a very physical performance. There is interesting use of technology and footage from the SDL demonstration is mixed-in in sound and pictures. There is a fascinating mix of influences on the stage presentation featuring Shakespearian influences of asides and soliloquy as well as a kind of Greek chorus.

Despite all this I didn’t applaud at the end. The play made me sad as hate, prejudice, intolerance and the glorification of violence won the day, albeit in a different form.

Reviewed by Pat Harrington

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