The recently refurbished Arcola is a very appealing space; the fresh wood and brick walls are a pleasing partnership. I haven’t a clue whether it’s a design choice or a characteristic of the reburb, but either way it works! Onstage, televisions frame the action and often parallel what’s being said onstage. This is an excellent visual hook. The content of the play is quite politically heavy and the televisions provide us with an alternate visual option. Cordelia Chisholm’s design has managed to not only support and heighten the action, but also allow us to easily absorb it, especially for those of us not so politically connected.
The actors do a tremendous job of presenting the different characters and their agendas. Fine webs are spun informing us of the lives of the two journalists, the underworld in Gibralter, the scandal of the shooting of unarmed terrorists, and the danger that faces them all because of it. Karina Fernandez seizes us with her portrayal of Rosa. Sexy, effortless and with attention to every minute physical detail, she makes us want to be on her side all the way through. I am constantly wishing for Rosa to appear again with another story.
Greer Dale-Foulkes plays Amelia, a young journalist on her first big job. Ambitious and efficient, Dale-Foulkes’s natural contact with others and exquisitely clear vocal technique make it very easy to watch her, and absorb the information regarding the shootings and the political battle that rages around them all. George Irving and Billy McColl seem less at home in their roles. Their accent work is unclear and distracting at times. It is also questionable whether the hesitations and stumbles are character choices or the actors making mistakes. The scenes have clearly been well-rehearsed, and fine detail discovered in this enriching and informative production directed by James Robert Carson. However, the women and the design elements are what keep this production moving forward.
Credit is due to all involved as the material is intricate and challenging. The short and sweet cockey sings quaintly nod to Magaret Thatcher. Whether you agree with the way she ran Britain and the military system of the time or not, the actors entertain us with anecdotal intervals that remind us further more of their versatility.
I would recommend it to anyone, regardless of their political background, if not for the politics then simply to watch Fernadez’s performance.
Gibraltar is playing at The Arcola Theatre until 20 April 2013. For more information or to purchase tickets please visit the Arcola Theatre website. Photography by Simon Annand.