‘Empathy functions even when there is conflict of interests between the fictitious universe and the actual one of the spectators. That is why there is censorship; to prevent an undesirable universe from being juxtaposed to the spectators’ universe.’ (Boal, 2000, p. 114)
The press erupts when middle aged leftie poet, Bev (Geraldine Somerville), includes the words Jew and Nazi in the same verse of her new poem 'Checkpoint Chana'. Bev's young personal assistant, Tamsin (Ulrika Krishnamurti), is much more adept to today's politically correct world and attempts to heal the wound the controversy has left upon Bev's reputation, but unfortunately with family turmoil and a penchant for white wine, Bev's world unravels at an alarming rate. Krishnamurti attacks the text with energy and vigour, but struggles to find variance in the pace of her uptight character.
The space is scattered with books old and new, with Rupi Kaur's Etsy-esque Milk and Honey tossed in with old-timer Yeats. Somerville's performance is sincere and captivating, particularly in the second half once she has relaxed into the text. Written by Jeff Page, the text uses many one word sentences, which with direction from Manuel Bau, often feel unnatural. Peaks within the writing include a monologue performed by journalist David, Matt Mella, about the hardship of being a Jewish boy in London, and the actual poem 'Checkpoint Chana' itself, which is wonderfully articulate.
The reggae-induced scene changes are a welcomed change in pace, despite the jarring transitional lighting blackouts. Stage Manager Michael (Nathaniel Wade) brings a youthful and honest energy to his scenes, and cleverly finds the humour within the text. Despite this, the dialogue-heavy scenes stretch out without much sense of theatrical style. Checkpoint Chana is a politically relevant piece of theatre with some emotionally engaging performances.
Written by @_FayeButler