My Country; A Work In Progress, Theatre Review. Playhouse Theatre, Liverpool.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *

Cast: Seema Bowri, Cavan Clarke, Laure Elphinstone, Adam Ewan, Penny Layden, Stuart McQuarrie, Christine Patterson.

Our voice is important, our opinions even more so and yet we decry others without even understanding them, without taking the time to truly listen without interrupting to what they are saying; at times it can seem like we have never gone past the ethics of the playground, whoever shouts loudest wins the argument. It is one that can be seen to have divided the nation, in some ways irrevocably, for the long foreseeable future as we continue to discuss the almost senseless act of offering a hopeful reasoned debate on the expectation of Britain’s role in the European Union, its position of a once in a lifetime vote of in or out.

Our thoughts we sometimes keep quiet, not wishing to stir up trouble for those who see the debate as an argument of what makes us the way we are, for those who see it as possibly a counter argument of My Country; A Work In Progress, for others it is the kind of fight they take to in mass to the social networks, looking for fights, searching for the opposing view and the name calling of racist and worse just because they voted to leave, of sell out to those that voted to stay.

The vote on Europe in 2016 will surely go down in history as the most divisive and pivotal moment of the last forty years and that is against some very stiff opposition, yet it is one that could have been avoided and the repercussions that follow in its wake if we had listened.

It is a premise that Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy has taken up in My Country; A Work In Progress at the Playhouse Theatre as hers, and some of those brave enough to voice an opinion, are captured in the metaphor of the islands, of some of the regions whose populace was split or vastly in favour one way or the other on how they voted.

With representation from Britannia herself, the souls of the people of an original rotten borough Salisbury, the mindset of Sunderland and the peoples of the Welsh Valleys and the rolling thoughts of those in Scotland, the play was one which opened many eyes, which hopefully opened a few minds and certainly showed that we need to listen more, we don’t ask the question ready to answer it, we must fully grasp the situation in which that person thinks the way we do, for who are really to judge and name call.

Carol Ann Duffy has done a magnificent job turning the disparate view points of so many people in the country into a production that went beyond all expectations, a play which many might not have seen being realised but then we all deserve a voice, it is unfortunate that some cannot use it with reason or measure.

Ian D. Hall