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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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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Bashir Lazhar, theatre review

Bashir Lazhar 3 stars
Assembly George Square (Venue 3)
With a monologue, the playwright usually has to find a reason for their solitary character to talk out loud. Evelyne de la Cheneli̬re, whose Strawberries in January played at the Traverse in 2006, takes a shortcut by making her central figure, the eponymous Bashir Lazhar, talk to a lot of characters whom we can't see. To people the stage with ghosts in this way is an irritating technique Рlike a proper play done on the cheap Рthat undermines the otherwise strong theatricality of Piet Defraeye's production for Canada's Wishbone Theatre.
Playing an Algerian supply teacher in a Montreal school, actor Michael Peng performs on a blackboard that extends across the whole stage and leaves chalk marks everywhere from the furniture to his own suit. He is an educational enthusiast but is struck by an irony that is hard to reconcile. After he has witnessed such murderous destruction and suffered so much personal loss in his native country, it is difficult for him to see the suicide of a Canadian teacher as anything other than an act of indulgence.
It makes for an interesting culture-clash drama which, with an added theme about the tension between true learning and bureaucratic indifference, would have been even better with a few more actors.
Mark Fisher
Until 28 August

© Mark Fisher 2011

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