Skip to main content

American Justice at Arts Theatre London

I made it to the opening night of Richard Vergette's tautly written 90-minute play, American Justice last week. It moved to Covent Garden's hip Arts Theatre following a well-received run in Manchester (with a different cast). Seated in the front row we, friend and I, could see the whites of the actors eyes and every minute facial expression, which added to the tension. The talented and versatile David Schaal was, for my money, the anchor of the play. Playing the part of the Republican anti-a-rab Obama prison warden, he guards the young Fenton, played with conviction (pardon the pun) by Ryan Gage. Fenton, illiterate and full of rage, is serving life for the murder of Democrat Congressman Daniels's daughter. Gage excels at facial expression: rage, fear, mistrust deeply etched.

Daniels, it seems, was swept into power because of his highly-publicised forgiveness of his daughter's apparent killer. Yet it's not enough for Daniels. He also takes it upon himself to educate Fenton, whilst having ideology clashes with the warden, (the only book he needs if the Good Book / electric chair etc). But is the forgiveness all it appears?

Daniels, played by Peter Tate, had the weakest accent of the trio; it kept slipping, which was unfortunate, and yet he did have the lion's share of the lines.

I learnt that Schaal's character, the warden, hasn't existed in previous runs, and whilst it is now easy to remark upon how that seems impossible having not seen the play without his character, I truly cannot imagine the play working as well without Schaal. The warden brings the vital anti-Democrat confrontations needed to keep this Obama-era play energised.
I found it telling (but of what I'm not yet certain) that the two plays I have seen this week (Julius Cesar at the Donmar) had both utilised on-stage screens to act as CCTV monitors in their respective prison settings.

What also made American Justice at the Arts Theatre most refreshing was the young audience.

American Justice is only on until February, so get booking.

Popular posts from this blog

Who was Mary Burns?

On 7th January 1863 Mary Burns was found dead from a suspected heart attack. She was 43 years old. Since her death Mary has received barely any attention despite the fact that she spent over twenty years as the common-law wife of Friedrich Engels, one of the world’s most influential thinkers and the co-founder of Marxism.

Born in 1822, Mary was the oldest surviving child of textile dyer and factory operative, Michael Burns, and Mary Conroy, Irish immigrants from Tipperary. Mary’s parents had married at St. Patrick’s in an area known casually as Irish Town, one of few Catholic churches in Manchester at that time. The year of Mary’s birth and her infancy were significant in that Manchester was still dealing with the aftermath of the event that became known as the 1819 Peterloo Massacre, a peaceful protest of the working-classes on the site of St. Peter’s Fields in which several people were killed and hundreds injured. The Massacre occurred when magistrates, alarmed at the size of t…

Booker Shortlist announced

It's been a while... I know. Dog walking on the Downs, a bit of theatre, a bit of baking, a bit of writing etcetera etcetera. I also managed to read two complete books in the past month, which I was so pleased about. I had not read a whole book for about a year. The first was A Lie About My Father by Scottish poet/writer, John Burnside; a very well written memoir about father and son, but like all memoirs, some unreliability I felt. Poignant and tragic in equal measure. Then my husband returned from Cyprus (too hot for me this time of year, I can barely cope with England!) with Sebastian Faulks's Birdsong. He loved it. And then I read it and also loved it. I had originally picked it up several years ago but didn't get beyond Amiens, where the first section is set, but was really glad I did this time around. Another incredibly well written book in the style of a good Victorian! I felt a bit unsure about bits of Elizabeth, in the later section, but I have never learnt so muc…

Days Without End and Mosul's Avengers

So fed up am I of buying books that I don't finish, that I decided I would go to the local library for a copy of Sebastian Barry's latest novel, Days Without End, which has just been awarded the Costa Prize. Unfortunately, I could only borrow it on the proviso that it was return by 1 February. I returned it the day after, without having finished it. I was about three quarters through, and will now have to go out and buy it for the final quarter. I loved Barry's The Secret Scripture, and on every publication of a new work, his star rises. Days Without End follows two boys, one descended from native Americans, and the other having arrived on one of the notorious coffin ships from famine struck Sligo. The tale is brave, funny, touching, but most of all Barry has achieved the perfect pitch. It is quite remarkable.

Another remarkable work comes in the form of reportage in the New Yorker (February 6, 2017) The Avengers of Mosul, by Luke Mogelson 'A Reporter at Large'.