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BWW Review: MRS GREEN, Bread & Roses Theatre


A new play where languages intertwine and interact seamlessly.

BWW Review: MRS GREEN, Bread & Roses Theatre

BWW Review: MRS GREEN, Bread & Roses Theatre Lots has changed in the United Kingdom since the referendum in 2016, and as a consequence so has British theatre. International, multicultural shows are now a steady presence in the fringe, making different points of view louder and stronger. These pieces are usually in English, our common language, or have some sort of sur-or-sub-titleage going on. What happens when a company refuse to do so and decide to perform a new play where languages intertwine and interact seamlessly? Mrs Green happens.

Teatro Multilingue have brought their latest venture to Clapham Fringe, a "unique multilingual journey", as described by them. In 45-minute we witness the stress Brexit has thrust upon foreigners over the years from the perspective of a young couple. She's Italian, he's French, and they moved to London for the usual reasons.

She's an actress at LAMDA who rents a room from Mrs Green, a well-travelled older lady with a dash of hippie, while he's studying to become a financial lawyer interning at a French bank. When the results of the vote hit, their relationship as well as their ties to the city change and crack.

The show is exhilarating for those of us who understand all three as they speak their native tongues, but not so much for the rest of the audience, which is a problem. Mrs Green is one of those pieces that frustrate monolinguals. Which is a shame, as playwright Francesco Baj uses the difference in speech in an exceptionally natural way.

Isabella (Julia Messina) and Jacques (Victor Ciri) never address it, but use English as a shared experience while Italian and French are closely linked and related to their separate intimate spheres. This creates a compelling ecosystem of sorts, where their personal involvement needs to be portrayed to others in words that only belongs to them in theory.

Director Flavio Marigliani doesn't aid the comprehension of their non-English monologues in any way, which becomes a problem in the long run as the contents are not that obvious to third-party ears. Mrs Green (Dyanne White, the perfect surname for this!) - the only native English speaker - lingers at the back in her role as anti-Brexit militant, making sign after sign to protest the decision to leave the EU.

The ominous reports we've learnt to associate to the immediate post-vote news cycle resound overhead as the two engage in a subtly political battle. But they're not on the same page. As Jacques's company transfers to another country in the EU, their liaison hits rock bottom and Isabella is forced to make a decision.

The aftershocks of Brexit come to the surface in their exchanges, turning into an opaque expository repetition of what's become our new British normal. They tackle the reliance on underpaid foreign labour and the hypocrisy of it all without considerable explanation or active commentary, which ultimately majorly holds the piece back - much like Jacques does to Isabella.

The experiment works, but only partially and only for international minds. The mix of various vocabularies makes Mrs Green an exciting new play with educational potential, but the lack of effective assistance unfortunately doesn't make it soar as it should.

Mrs Green runs at the Bread & Roses Theatre until 2 October as part of Clapham Fringe.

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From This Author Cindy Marcolina