Adventures in Black and White
Camden People’s Theatre
Two horrific events are the backdrop to Double Trouble’s story of exile and migration.
Miriam Gould’s grandparent escaped Vienna in the 1930s and Judita Vivas’s grandparent was among the many thousands of Lithuanians forcibly transported to Siberia.
It is told through extracts from diaries and letters, the events depicted interspersed with abstract physical performance.
But the piece is difficult to follow.
It's not always clear who is being depicted or what is happening. Who is the mysterious non-English speaker who wanders round? Why were Miriam and Junita joyfully emptying a hot water bottle and boots full of flour?
Why do the pair keep falling over and for what reason does Junita roll around the floor for a period practically naked?
If the clowning doesn’t seem to have a meaning, the anecdotes from family history seem a bit soft-centred.
We get none of the terror the grandparents must have suffered at the hands of Stalin and the Nazis. Instead, there is the slightly sad story of a grandfather in America not getting to eat his birthday chocolate cake from Austria and in Lithuania a man is accidentally sent to prison with a suitcase of women’s clothes.
As for the trip to Siberia, the family transported were surprised to find it was a very beautiful place. There’s no mention that a few people transported might have died en route and many more in the settlements. Lithuania reckons it runs into the thousands.
If it wasn’t for all the abstract messing about, Russian Stalinists might ask this company to write the cosy history of Stalinist policies.
Reviewer: Keith Mckenna