Europe (4 stars)

Dundee Rep, Wed 4-Sat 7 Apr


Reviving a play that is old enough to merit revisiting but too young to be called a classic carries a certain risk. What seemed timely and topical a decade ago might now seem tired and trite. The remarkable thing about David Greig’s Europe, however, is that it speaks even more vividly about our world in 2007 than it did when it was first staged at the Traverse in 1994.

Greig would argue that he wasn’t being prescient when he wrote about the movement of peoples on a continent riven by civil war and economic collapse, he was merely tuned in to a problem that hasn’t gone away. That doesn’t lessen the chill wind of recognition when we see Chris Ryman’s wheeler-dealing Morocco being viciously beaten up by a disenfranchised mob for consorting with Michelle Bonnard’s refugee Katia. It could be a racist attack in today’s UK - or anywhere else in today’s world in political flux.

What strikes home most forcibly in Douglas Rintoul’s bold, sober, strongly acted production, played out on Colin Richmond’s suitably placeless set of advertising hoardings and neon lights, is the way Greig connects social disintegration with the loss of identity. All the characters in this town near the border of some unnamed country have been uprooted by forces beyond their control, but their greatest psychological wound is caused less by losing their livelihood than by having nowhere distinctive to call home.

Perhaps Margaret Thatcher was right when she said there was no such thing as society - and this bleak place is what it looks like.

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