The latest in the Welsh Fargo Stage Company’s “On The Edge” series of play-readings (at Chapter, Cardiff) was a presentation of Mark Jenkins’ “Downtown Paradise”, an account of a collision between black and white radicalism in 1970s America, first produced by the author himself in the 1990s. From the outset, it is made clear that the story of Jewish lawyer Rachel’s attempt to secure the release from prison of the articulate and politically engaged Wilson will have an unfortunate conclusion; but the journey is a fascinating, engaging, and, on occasion, darkly humorous one. Sule Rimi is remarkably charismatic as the radical and defiantly imperfect jailbird, Claire Cage all tough tenderness as the cynically idealistic heroine, the writing is slick and convincing (at least to my non-American ears), and director Michael Kelligan keeps things flowing with great deftness for the most part (although I felt that the violent climax could have been handled more subtly). This is absorbing political theatre of a kind which seems, in the post 9/11 age, to be growing rarer – the kind which asks questions of the audience rather than simplistically demanding its agreement.
A link to my latest project: “Sons of Nervous Lovers”, a crime novella, exclusive to Amazon’s Kindle Store.