Reviewed by Tony Peters
Mark R Giesser’s satirical drama set during the battle of the Alamo debuts at the Tabard Theatre in Turnham Green and portrays events somewhat differently to John Wayne in his 1960 film, but probably no less historically sketchy — depending on where your sympathies lie.
The time is 1835, the place Mexico, and revolution is in the air as a disparate band of brothers (and sisters) made up of Americans and immigrants take on the might of the Mexican army in an effort to seize Texas and turn it into an independent state.
Somehow caught up in all this and on opposite sides are cultured English painter Charlotte Vernon (ZoëTeverson), lover of an officer (Steven Cavanagh) in the Mexican army and also on hand to document the campaign in paint, and Harry Birchfield (Steven Clarke), a ducking and diving former cobbler from London who sees an opportunity to exploit the conflict and trouser some cash.
Woven within these two stories are a series of satirical vignettes performed by an ensemble trio (Richard Emerson, Riona O’Connor and James Palmer) that grow ever more surreal and are at times very funny — at one stage we’re even treated to some panto-style “he’s-behind-you” banter with the audience.
However, it’s because things come so much alive when these three (who also take other lead roles) are on stage that it doesn’t always flow neatly with the main narrative.
Giesser’s cleverly written, often intricate dialogue fair races along at times and he makes some pointed observations about government, immigration and cultural conflict that certainly have a resonance with modern times. The play was certainly received enthusiastically by the audience on the night I went.
The Tabard is a delightful little theatre seating less than a 100 people. It is well run by a friendly staff and is another of those fringe venues that we’re so lucky to have in London that puts passion first and is willing to give space to interesting works like this.
Steven ClarkeHarry Birchfield
Stephen CavanaghAndreas Gerber
Richard EmersonGeorge Kimball
Riona O’ConnorBridget Ross
James PalmerFrancisco Castañeda
Tabard Theatre, 16 January – 9 February
Written and Directed by Mark R Giesser