Europe Playhouse Tuesday 21 – Saturday 25 October Ilan Goodman’s production of David Greig’s Europe asks the question “What is politics?”. At the same time it posits a bicentric world-view in which we see traditional nation-politics offset by Thirlwellian bedroom power-play. The continent that this play deals with is not just the cosmopolitan world of Berlin, Athens, and Salzburg, but a war-ravaged, refugee-ridden place of treachery and insecurity. Set in a unspecified European village, two contrasting arrivals cause characters to reconsider the nature of their locality. Morocco, a well-travelled entrepreneur, pines for the comfort of home, while economic migrants Sava and Katia are forced to sleep on the train platform. Greig’s fans will tell you of his speciality in presenting subjects such as immigration, nationalism, patriotism and identity, through tight personal relationships. It is certainly an absolute triumph of Goodman’s direction that in such a large play – big themes, big stage, big set – Europe is sincere and personally involving. The interplay of the tired and pained Katia (Kate Fowler), looking after her doting father, Sava (Colin Burnie), is particularly affecting; the consequences of their flight grow in front of your eyes. Some of the most entertaining scenes are between three youths, Berlin (Gethin Anthony), Billy (Tai Shan Ling) and Horse (Andy King). They fizzle with a melancholic humour as the hopeless discuss their hopes. The scenes between the lovers Berlin and Adele (Polly Findlay) are also brilliantly staged and harrowing. This is also a play about escaping, about journeying, but for a journey to make sense it has to be going somewhere. Throughout, there is a feeling that ideas are floating about in the same way that the characters do. In order to flourish they need to be pinned down. Greig seems willing to raise the issues of media presentation, immigration, and the rise of the right-wing. He seems more evasive in answering them. There are moments when the play feels distinctly didactic, “remember that we are, in our own way, Europe” and yet when we look for the lesson there is nothing to be learnt. But hardly in a version as brilliantly staged and compelling as this can there be no point. We are reminded that humanity is to be found only in the relationships in our world.ARCHIVE: 1st Week MT2003