REVIEW: IN SEARCH OF ENGLAND (The Bedford)
Theatre N16 and Fox Theatre bring In Search of England to The Bedford in Balham. This is Neil D’Arcy Jones’s first play for adults and the first time one of his plays has been performed in London.
“There’s no such thing as countries…” This play addresses the topical theme of what it means to be English, through the eyes of George. He was born in England, his parents are English yet he’s not sure what that means for him. After spending years travelling the world, George is back in England, travelling in his home country, guidebook clutched in his hand.
As the play unfolds we learn more about George’s story through his meetings with a range of people he comes across on his travels as well as insights into his past.
A cast of three bring this tale to life. Matthew John Wright plays George and is on stage for most of the time. Sarah Lambie and Thomas Witcomb play all the other roles using a range of accents and slight adjustments of costume and hair styles.
The simple set of a table, two benches and a box of props are used to good effect as the action moves around the country. The stage floor is covered in maps with more hanging from a net on the ceiling. In a clever touch to set the scene, rolled up papers are unravelled to expose a silhouette which fixes the location as George moves from place to place.
This timely exploration of national and personal identity and an insight into the mind of a young man struggling to find his place in the world is well worth a trip to Balham. The skill of the writing and the acting left me guessing till the end.
Reviewed by Rhiannon Evans