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Mark Fisher
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Follow me on Twitter at MarkFFisher, WriteAboutTheat and LimelightXTC I am a freelance journalist and critic specialising in theatre and the arts. Publications I write for include the Guardian and the Scotsman. I am the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: how to make your show a success and How to Write About Theatre: A Manual for Critics, Students and Bloggers. I am also editor of The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls: A Limelight Anthology. From 2000-2003, I was the editor of The List magazine, Glasgow and Edinburgh's arts and events guide.
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Monday, May 24, 2010

One Million Tiny Plays About Britain, theatre review

Published in The Guardian

One Million Tiny Plays About Britain

Citizens, Glasgow
4 out of 5

Ros Philips brings Tardis-like powers to her inspired staging of Craig Taylor's miniature dramas, originally serialised in the Guardian and now brought vividly to life as the plays they always aspired to be. The warping of the space-time continuum is partly in Jason Southgate's design, which makes resourceful use of the small upstairs studio, transforming the space ingeniously from a city park to a commuter train, from an estate agent to a kebab shop, from a prayer room to a hospital.

It is also in the unfathomable distance Philips covers in just 90 minutes. Taking Taylor's geographical stage directions at their word, she whisks us from Portsmouth to Pilton, from town to country, interspersing each short, sharp scene with recorded chatter from Geordies, Scousers and Glaswegians.

Working tirelessly and with absolute concentration, Sushil Chudasama, Mark McDonnell and Pauline Turner show chameleon-like gifts for transformation. Taylor's skill is to create striking characterisations in the smallest amount of dialogue. It must have been tempting for the actors to turn the hen-night Wonder Woman, the pompous IT man and the light-jumping bike thief into caricatures, but although the show is very funny, they never ham it up. Barring the odd sketch-show moment, they treat each character with honesty and compassion.

Together, their confrontations and misunderstandings form a mosaic of modern multicultural life. Even the funniest tend to also be poignant. Whether it is the old lady in desperate need to talk, the Muslim and Christian making futile attempts to understand each other or the young marketing managers laying off one of their "old-school" staff, this is a Britain not of great dramatic moments but of everyday cruelties. If by its nature, the show is not big on emotional depth, it nonetheless skims the surface with wit, flair and surprising insight.

Until June 6. Box office: 0141-429 0022.

© Mark Fisher 2010

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