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"Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake - Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower (1887-1956)"

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Europe @DonmarWarehouse "we can't just chalk this up a blip in humanity's ugly past. We can clearly hear the sharp fingernail of current political populism scratching down the blackboard of modern days too"

Last Thursday night Stuart and I went to see David Greig’s play Europe at the Donmar Warehouse in London's glitzy West End.

A new era is dawning at the Donmar, with Michael Longhurst stepping into Josie Rourke’s sizeable shoes as artistic director. Longhurst, whose recent productions include Amadeus, The Son and Caroline, Or Change, has started with a rare revival of prolific Scottish playwright David Greig’s Europe.

Written in 1994, Greig’s play is set in the railway station of a non-specific European town – a railway station that no trains ever stop at, and that two refugees, Sava and Katia, make their home, alongside its officious stationmaster, his dreamer assistant, and the town’s increasingly irate population.

Greig’s sharp, clear-sighted writing unfolds over a number of short scenes, in which he traces how industrial and economic decline leads to introversion, suspicion of strangers and, ultimately, devastating violence. There is humour, yes, but we also sense the impending doom.

And although written about the Bosnia refugee crisis in the early 1990s, we can't just chalk this up a blip in humanity's ugly past. We can clearly hear the sharp fingernail of current political populism scratching down the blackboard of modern days too.

Longhurst’s revival features Armenian actor Kevork Malikyan as Sava, Harry Potter star Natalia Tena as Katia, stage and screen stalwart Ron Cook as stationmaster Fret, and Game of Thrones’ Faye Marsay as his assistant Adele.

Greig’s play is a powerful and pertinent portrait of a (still) divided Europe.

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