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Care Takers review at C Venues, Edinburgh – ‘engaging’

Penelope McDonald and Emma Romy-Jones in Care Takers at C Venues, Edinburgh Penelope McDonald and Emma Romy-Jones in Care Takers at C Venues, Edinburgh

Billy Cowan’s powerful drama brings a high-stakes morality debate theatrically alive. The writer-director draws a level of passion, psychological depth and sincerity from his two performers that give full voice to the issues while recognising that sincerity of intention and impurity of character can coexist.

An idealistic young teacher (Emma Romy-Jones) comes to her deputy head (Penelope McDonald) concerned that one of her students is being bullied. The two argue for different ways of dealing with the problem but, over a period of months, their opposition only hardens, both sides of the debate becoming increasingly entrenched by prejudicial leanings and personal agenda.

The multi-layered characterisations raise echoes of David Mamet’s Oleanna, with Romy-Jones’ character contaminated by a zealotry that renders her unable to consider any counter-argument, while McDonald’s headteacher’s professional ambitions and personal prejudice cast a shadow over her experience-driven judgement. Their decisions will have dramatic ramifications.

The two actors skilfully and convincingly weave their well-meaning, yet flawed, characters into this deepening moral rift. The result is an intellectually stimulating and emotionally engaging production that seeks broader truths while navigating an ethically knotty plot.

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Exciting drama of ideas with deeply flawed characters arguing idealistic positions