I Can Go Anywhere
- Gareth K Vile
- 19 December 2019
Mod-inspired asylum seeker drama
Douglas Maxwell's nimble script dances around issues of identity, sexuality, belonging and asylum: a young asylum seeker, Jimmy (Nebli Basani), arrives in Glasgow and seeks out Stevie (Paul McCole). Jimmy, in seeking to demonstrate his Britishness, and thereby gain asylum, has embraced Mod culture, from sharp suit via verbal mannerism to the inevitable parker: Stevie, author of an analysis of Mod culture, becomes the ideal man to legitimise Jimmy's persona.
While large chunks of Stevie's chat about Mod's importance appear to have been culled from Richard Weight's magisterial analysis of 'Britain's biggest youth movement', Maxwell grapples with the notions of culture and identity through a lively prism. Jimmy's appropriation of Mod as a style misses Stevie's anthropological theories, setting them at cross-purposes. For the asylum seeker, Mod is a quintessential expression of both cool and Britishness. Avoiding his national identity, or the reason for his quest for asylum, becomes a crucial element of Jimmy's journey and he discovers community and camaraderie by adopting the look and the sound of the sixties. Stevie, dealing with the collapse of his own career and relationship, sees only the shallow imitation of a teenage dream that has been too easily commodified.
Eve Nicol's sprightly direction showcases the verbal dexterity of Maxwell's script – even as it expresses the thoughts of two characters caught up in their own woes and frequently fail to communicate – and pushes the pace along, leaping over the long conversations that end in incoherence and confusion. The epilogue, when the two meet up again in changed circumstances, doesn't bring much resolution, but the combination of solid performances, Nicol's dramaturgy and Maxwell's sensitivity to the difficulties of conversation provoke difficult questions around areas that are often reduced to simplistic caricatures.
Ultimately, the vagueness of Jimmy's journey, and the sudden twist which sees him break, leaves the asylum seeker an unsympathetic protagonist: until the climax, his insistence on the Mod identity reduces him to a bumbling, twitchy and disconcerting presence: Stevie's own emotional pain, enhanced by alcohol, shades, by turns, into prejudice and a forceful defence of progressive values. Clear from lazy stereotyping, or offering easy solutions, I Can Go Anywhere is a valuable engagement with contemporary ideas and idealism that falters in some of the dialogue but leaves plenty of space for argument.
Traverse, Edinburgh, until Sat 21 Dec.