Blood and Gold
Royal Lyceum Edinburgh
Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh
The story of British involvement in Africa is contested. No matter how much suffering Britain may have inflicted on the continent, those who rule Britain still parade with pride the time they “ruled the waves”, still insist on defending statues of those who profited from slavery and continue to name some of its population members of the British Empire.
But there are other stories of that relationship which Mara Menzies gives us in the form of a poetic, atmospheric saga of mothers and their children that encounter the arrival to Africa of the Europeans whose purpose could be summed up as blood and gold, which entailed slavery, colonialism, immense cruelty and racism that informed the language they used.
That language, the ideas they carried, the hierarchy they maintained and the control they practised are the saga’s “shadow man” getting inside us, crushing our own history, destroying our spirit.
At times, Mara encourages the audience to add their own words and their own thoughts to the narrative. The storytelling performance concludes with the encouraging claim that the stories passed down by mothers to their children, along even with the language of the oppressor, can enable us to “rip out the shadow man” that longs to continue its brutal rule.
Reviewer: Keith Mckenna