Review: Testing The Echo

By John Nathan, April 17, 2008

Tricycle Theatre, London NW6

David Edgar’s zeitgeist play about British citizenship would have benefited from having fewer points of view. But then, to discriminate against one point of view in favour of another would, according to English teacher Emma, be very un-British. Her job is to help a diverse group of immigrants pass their British citizenship test. Their reward — a mayor’s handshake and the rights of a British citizen.

Mahmood wants them so he can claim a house in Pakistan without fear of arrest; for Tetyana, it means she can escape her overbearing Muslim husband. There are others, and whatever their religion, all have to learn the new official bible called Living in UK.

Edgar’s narrative — well performed in Matthew Dunster’s Out of Joint production — is good on the absurdities and anomalies of defining this nation’s culture. But we get little chance to care about his protagonists’ condition. Though Jews are cited as early examples of immigration, Edgar seems to have missed a trick in identifying how immigrant attitudes have changed since then. Where once most felt gratitude towards their adopted country, many now harbour resentment.

Tel: 020 7328 1000

Last updated: 11:52am, May 20 2008