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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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Friday, July 12, 2013

Kora, theatre review

Published in the Guardian

Dundee Rep
Two stars
After Tom McGrath's death in 2009, there came speculation about his legacy. As the first editor of International Times, the founder of Glasgow's Third Eye Centre (now CCA) and a key supporter of several generations of Scottish playwrights, he made a major contribution to the culture.

As a dramatist, he also made a mark. His first plays have proved durable: The Hard Man recently did a mainstage tour, while Laurel and Hardy is about to be revived by the Watermill, Newbury. In the rest of his canon, there are gems ready to be reclaimed, but much of it is either too experimental or too much of its time and place to endure.

On the strength of this revival by Dundee Rep and Magnetic North, Kora falls into the latter category. The product of a residency in the city in 1986, it is a fact-based drama about a campaign by residents in the peripheral Whitfield area to have improvements made to their low-rise flats. It has a vaguely agit-prop structure as we see the neighbours, led by the fecund life-force that is Emily Winter's Kora, transform themselves from victims into players, only to come up against the bureaucratic might of the council.

As a story of local authority indifference, it might have made a subplot in Our Friends in the North, but the stakes are too low to make any of it seem very important. It's hard to get a sense of the scale of deprivation in the flats, nor do we witness the worst excesses of council corruption. It isn't helped by the many inconsequential scenes of tea drinking in the play's lengthy exposition.

Performed in the round in the Bonar Hall, adjacent to the main theatre, Nicholas Bone's production has a warm-hearted community spirit, despite its middle-class sheen, but the play remains minor McGrath.
Mark Fisher
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