Wednesday 9 February 2011


INVASION! , The Selkirk, London

The Tooting Arts Club is a brand-new theatre project. It debuted last week with Jonas Hassn Khemiri’s Invasion!, first staged in London nearly two years ago at the Soho Theatre and chosen, according to the production notes, for ‘its playful spirit coupled with its topicality’.

So it’s two years on and we’re not in Soho anymore, but upstairs at the Selkirk pub (a charming fringe location which won’t be a permanent home for the company), and while on press night the sound and light design suggested a slight lack of familiarity with the venue,  the willingly awkward beginning of the play was made all the more powerful by this location: fewer people bring greater individual responsibility, and therefore greater effort to choose your level of engagement.

Jamie Harper directs the new version with seemingly few interventions on the original shape, which is a pity, because this might have made for a bolder debut if it hadn’t walked so closely in the steps of the Soho Theatre production. Nevertheless it does allow for acting virtuosity to shine through, and Mariam Haque, in particular, shows a remarkable talent for comedy - in fact possibly turning out to be too funny for the play’s own good, making it almost impossible for her fellow actors not to guffaw. And even though I had seen this play before, and some of its scenes had stuck with me and were brought up exactly as I remembered them, I still laughed, and still strongly felt the danger and frustration of mis-interpretation and crude cultural information, arbitrary news reports left unquestioned and discussions between experts that resemble closely the kind of graduate talk Khemiri depicts so acutely.

Till 19 February


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