Art and Soul
Eastern Angles Theatre Company present ‘Lincoln Road’ @ St. John’s Church, Cathedral Square, 20.11.09
A short play, called ‘Lincoln Road’, written about Peterborough, playing almost every day for a month, that’s free to get into? It’s going to be rubbish, right?
Wrong. The Eastern Angles Theatre Company are based in Ipswich, and exist to bring theatre to new audiences in the East Anglia region. In order to engage with local people and pique the interest of those who might not be regular theatre-goers, their writers create plays which are set in, and are about, the areas in which they are performed. For ‘Lincoln Road’, writer Danusia Iwaszko and other staff at the company have meticulously researched Peterborough, its geography, demography, and the issues that affect the city, and the depth of research shows.
The play is about a group of people who want to put on a carnival in Peterborough, both as a way of promoting the city and drawing in visitors, but also to celebrate its diversity and unite its multitude of cultures. The company have astutely identified Lincoln Road as the embodiment of the multi-cultural issues the city faces. The plan is that each nationality or culture will have its own float, and the carnival will process along Lincoln Road, ending in the city centre. The play follows Gianni and Nadeeda as they meet with representatives from each cultural group and try to bring them together for the event.
There are only three actors in ‘Lincoln Road’, and the character changes are as seamless as they are sudden. As Nadeeda speaks of the dread of visiting her Pakistani aunts, Gianni and the African volunteer Awande jump up and instantly become the two aunts, twirling around in their saris and gossiping about their niece. All of the city’s cultural groups are deftly portrayed; from the Italians who came over to work in the brickyards after the war, to the newly arrived Eastern Europeans, and the ‘native’ English who are, in fact, no more native than most of the other groups in the city.
In little over half an hour, Eastern Angles manage to identify one of Peterborough’s most burning issues, create a story around it, and make some pertinent and thought-provoking points (the originally optimistic Gianni’s disillusionment when the multi-cultural ‘Bring A Dish’ evening descends into a food fight between the nationalities has particularly symbolic poignance), while producing some top quality acting and the sort of escapism any good play provides.
‘Lincoln Road’, along with another production, ‘Lion & Unicorn’, runs until 5th December. If you’re reading this before that date, get down to see it while you can, and if you’re reading after, keep an eye out for the name, as Eastern Angles will be back in the city sometime in 2010.
Paddy Burke (Review)
Lincoln Road (Peterborough Today)
Review: Lion & Unicorn + Lincoln Road (Eastern Angles – Platform Peterborough)
Published Date: 24 November 2009
By Mark Pearson
Lion & Unicorn + Lincoln Road – by the Eastern Angles Theatre Company – Venues across Peterborough until December 5.
If you want a reminder why Peterborough has such rich cultural diversity and historical significance then make sure you get to the Eastern Angles plays cropping up inside city venues.
And, if you’ve been lucky enough to see them already, then you’ll know what I mean when I call them short, sharp and witty insights into the city we know and love.
Performed and produced by Ipswich-based Eastern Angles Theatre company, the two plays in question are called Lion & Unicorn and Lincoln Road.
The first is based on the Guildhall emblem coming to life. The Lion and Unicorn reveal all to Edie (a girl who has climbed onto the building’s roof after a topsy-turvy night out) about Cathedral Square’s bustling life.
The imperious Lion (Babajide Fado) is determined to find out how long they’ve been up there holding the shield, and the sprightly unicorn (Rachael Barrington) wants to discover just what humans do on a night out.
It includes many other references to the city – the Posh scarf, football chants, bars, music and clubs – it’s clear a lot of research was done to ensure the whole audience can relate to it – no matter what age you are.
The second play has just started it’s two week run. Lincoln Road is centred around plans for a carnival along one of Peterborough’s most diverse streets.
Three actors play a multitude of characters (dare I say they create a League of Gentlemen style Royston Vasey with our beloved Lincoln Road) and ideas and arguments about how the carnival soon fly around the stage as we’re introduced to more and more residents.
You’ve got meddling Pakistani aunts, lairy rugby players, worldly Italians, coy Eastern Europeans and a meticulous African.
It’s riveting stuff, maintaining the right balance of humour and sensitivity to leave you wanting to find out more about the individuals who have made their home here – just the way it should be.