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Posts Tagged ‘Adam Brace’

This is a comprehensive examination of the complex issues, past and present, facing the ‘Democratic’ Republic of Congo, told through its diaspora in London and NGO’s. It’s also surprisingly funny, using black humour to emphasise the tragedy and hopelessness of the situation.

Stef was born on Kenya, the daughter of a white farmer who is now dead. She now lives in the UK, working in government. She’s trying to organise a festival called Congo Voice to raise awareness about the issues facing the country. She insists that one-third of the steering committee comes from the Congolese diaspora in London, the rest made up of representatives of NGO’s plus her ex, a PR man who still carries a torch for her. They go about persuading musicians, poets, writers and photographers to become involved but their planning is jeopardised by London members of a Congolese militant organisation. At the end of the first half, we learn more about Stef’s motivation with a flashback to her brief time in the DRC witnessing the aftermath of an atrocity.

In the second half the plans unravel as virtually everyone pulls out for one reason or another. The whole situation is mired in politics and vested interests, burying the interests of the Congolese people in the conflicting perspectives and priorities of people in London, many of whom have never even been there. Throughout the play there is a ghostly presence that no-one can see, an African dandy, Stef’s conscience. It covers so much ground, from the Portuguese slave trade of the 16th century through Belgian colonisation to dictators past and present. No-one is spared – colonists, Western governments. African neighbours, global businesses, Congolese tribal militia, NGO’s, members of the diaspora themselves and even consumers whose desire for gadgets fuels the trade in rare minerals that itself fuels the violence, particularly on women.

I very much liked Adam Brace’s play, as I did his earlier piece Stovepipe (https://garethjames.wordpress.com/2009/03/30/stovepipe), and Michael Longhurst’s excellent production, with a fine cast of just twelve in multiple roles and an on-stage three-piece band. Definitely worth catching.

 

Gareth on the move

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