The Screens

UEA Drama Studio, Norwich

The Screens, by legendary playwright and seeker Jean Genet was originally written against the backdrop of the Algerian war of 1954-62. How very present, however, were the themes it approached: of revolt, colonialism,and the fate of the outsider.

Revolt was brewing up all through the first half of the play. The village people worked in the orange plantations with growing dissatisfaction. The yellow light of Katri Randelin, Luke Sampson and Oleg Vukmanovic's design beat relentlessly on their heads.

Their colonial oppressors were portrayed as rigid and grotesque: men and women puffed up in their own importance who strutted around the stage pontificating about rose gardens while flies ate the bodies of those who had fallen by the wayside under their regime. The mask work and physical theatre techniques employed here were particularly effective.

The outsiders, offered nothing by either the peasants or the oppressors made up their own rules, their own language, and their own way of looking at the world. Like Genet himself, they took the role of thieves in the society that

shunned them . The scene of Leila, Nicola Connell, pretending to give birth to her meagre booty and talking to her cheese-grater mixed comedy with the tragedy of her own barrenness to great effect.

But where Ralph Yarrow and his talented young ensemble really excelled was in the way they showed the destablizing power of war which forces us all to re-think our society. The Screens caused an uproar in its time, and it still leaves a bloody taste in the mouth.

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