The ludicrousness of creating a test of Britishness would seem unlikely to spawn an evening’s entertainment, let alone an hour and three quarters of provocative, witty, virtuoso theatre. The actors double and treble, with character changes accomplished by a mere adjustment of hair, headscarf, glasses and/or accent. At one point two scenes happen concurrently, with one character hovering between both.
Yet it doesn’t distract, it draws you into the play, and out of this maelstrom several stories organically emerge.
Teresa Banham gives a passionate portrayal of Emma the tutor who clashes with one of her students. Sirine Saba is excellent as Nasim, who refuses to play the game and causes Emma to question her beliefs.
Kirsty Bushell, in the tender scenes between Tetyana and her stepdaughter, produces moments of real pathos, and just how does Farzana Dua Elahe morph before our eyes from a grouchy 11-year-old in her nightie into a perky Albanian whore with great legs?
Ian Dunn convinces, whether playing a Korean who is being picked on by his workmates or Tetyana’s mysterious Muslim husband. Robert Gwilym, Sushil Chudasama and Syrus Lowe also give riveting performances.
Much of the credit must go to director Matthew Dunster, who choreographs rather than directs, keeping pace and control, maximising use of the simple set and pushing the actors to the edge.
Mention must also be made of the contributions from designers for set, Paul Wills; lighting, Philip Gladwell; sound, Ian Dickinson; and projections, Thomas Gray, who between them produce an extraordinarily technically cohesive production.