REVIEW ADAPTATION PETER PAN Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Tue 8–Sat 12 Jun ●●●●●

It’s hard to know who the National Theatre of Scotland’s target audience is for this much anticipated production of Peter Pan. Certainly not families with children who, drawn by the title, will head to this in their droves and inevitably be disappointed. There are a few magical touches to keep young

minds captive Tinkerbell depicted as a flickering flame, the odd bit of energetic ‘flying’, and the miraculous appearance of all four Lost Boys in a seemingly empty bed. But with a running time of over two-and-a-half hours, that’s just not enough. Writer David Grieg has relocated Barrie’s tale from

London to Lothian, setting Mr Darling up as an engineer on the Forth Rail Bridge as it nears

completion. This leads to some innovative set design, with the iconic half-finished bridge revolving to transform into a pirate ship. Even here we run into trouble, though, when the characters clinging to it are almost camouflaged, rendering the nuances of their performance barely visible. Which is actually one of this production’s biggest problems it’s just too dark. Not just the storytelling, which could certainly use an injection of fun, but the minimal lighting does little to counter the show’s already soporific pace.

A few of the performers shine, but overall the

standard falls short of what you’d expect from a national company. Most disappointing of all, the audience has no hand in bringing Tinkerbell back from the brink of death but then that would probably be far too engaging and audience friendly for this resolutely serious production. (Kelly Apter)

REVIEW POLITICAL THRILLER BETRAYED The Tron, Glasgow, until Fri 14 May ●●●●●

There’s little that’s cut and dried about the Iraq war, and current attempts to explain and attribute blame for its follies Paul Greengrass’ film Green Zone for example often overlook the stickier parts of the mess. George Packer’s Betrayed avoids straightforward Bush bashing, and instead provides a decent overview of Iraqi factional violence and diminishing optimism, and the lame efforts of idealistic coalition bureaucrats to deal with these problems. The play, here getting its UK

premiere, is adapted from Packer’s 2007 New Yorker article of the same name. Its characters are mostly drawn from real life. Arran Shandi and Waleed Akhtar are convincing as Adnan and Laith, educated Iraqis working as coalition interpreters, putting up with death threats to do jobs they believe in. However, when they need security

the most the Americans let them down. The Yanks are definitely the bad guys here. From the cold and creepy Ambassador (Benny Young), down to the predictably shouty Regional Security Officer (Adam McNamara), their rhetoric is an alternating series of brush-offs and threats. This doesn’t sit so comfortably in a play that is, for the most part, about the emotional impact of betrayal. Shandi and Akhtar are sensitive to their characters’ feelings of crushed hope, and the play really thrives in the scenes where their awareness of Iraq’s implosion into civil war is contrasted with blind American cheerleading. Overall an interesting, though contrived, narrative of war. (Jonny Ensall)

REVIEW TRIPLE BILL FROM THE WEST BANK Tron Theatre, Glasgow, until Sat 22 May ●●●●●

These three short plays (two world premieres by David Greig and a revival of a work by Franca Rame) are sparse, clean and simply presented. The pared-back staging, language and performances from Cora Bissett, Ewan Donald and Benny Young (all three of whom also direct) results in a tight, unflinching focus on various issues relating to everyday life in the West Bank, although communicated by white faces and Scottish accents. In An Imagined Sarwar, a 60-something Palestinian and a 20-something Israeli, both of

whom spent their childhoods on the same geographical patch of earth, find eventual resolution in their love of these hills and trees. Bissett turns in a splendidly physical performance in Rame’s An Arab Woman Speaks, purportedly a verbatim text, and all the rarer as it confronts lazy Western assumptions about the supposed victimhood of Arab women. The final work, Greig’s Ramallah brings the focus back home again in small scale metaphor: a radio broadcasts the piffling trifles of the leaders debate as a Scottish couple, one of whom has been working in the West Bank, the other, struggling to bring up their children in his absence, attempt to negotiate reconciliation through the barriers of their experience.

At times, both Greig works, especially An Imagined Sarwar, come across as overly didactic; whole swathes of conversation given over to explaining Israeli/Arab relations as the characters defend their allegiances. However, this is a minor criticism of a clear-eyed, unsentimental triple bill, designed to make us stop and consider. (Kirstin Innes)

84 THE LIST 13–27 May 2010