Tristan Bates Theatre
Glass Roots takes us to the socially fractured Britain of the 1980s where the rich were accumulating greater wealth from a deregulated economy and some of those left behind targeted their discontent on ethnic minorities.
The restaurant of Thila (Natalie Perera) and her husband Sadjit (Kal Sabir) receives four visitors. Two are a self-obsessed couple Rupert (Ben Warwick) the lawyer and his date Celia (Victoria Broom).
No sooner have they ordered their meal than two menacing youths, Diesel (Mitchell Fisher) and Spaceman (Sam Rix), arrive.
They never seem entirely sure whether they want to bully the rich couple who make an early departure without their food or to spend their time humiliating Thila and Sadjit with intimidating demands and racist slurs.
If the subject matter seems highly topical, its delivery lacks believability and its dialogue is difficult to understand.
Maybe the characters are meant to be satiric. The racist youths are crude, superficial stereotypes known only by their nicknames.
The rich characters speak in a manner that bobs between the unlikely (Rupert refers to the restaurant staff as “the servants”) and the other-worldly (“If you were hydraulic I should evaporate myself out of this situation”).
At times, they all seem to mangle the dictionary. One of the first things Sadjit says is “I am fighting off the despite factor”.
Of course unusual sentence construction can be interesting but when this play allows it to be comprehensible it is also weak.
One of the racists complains that the Asian staff “take our homes, take our jobs, take our money.” And to demonstrate his eloquence says it again in reverse order.
Rupert mildly amuses with his claim that “history has been made by men who have not had enough cuddles.” But this is weak.
They do keep saying strange things and nothing much happens beyond the novel speech patterns. Given the conflict potential, it is also remarkable that there is no dramatic tension.
Even Spaceman is driven by the splurge of words to start banging his head on the table. There must have been audience members who felt like doing the same.
Reviewer: Keith Mckenna