Bread and Roses Theatre
Francesco Baj’s forty-minute play Mrs Green depicts some of the personal consequences of the UK leaving the EU for three characters living in London during the referendum. Isabella (Julia Messina) from Italy studied acting at LAMDA and lodges with Mrs Green (Dyanne White). Jacques (Victor Ciri), who works at a bank, meets Isabella as she is walking someone else’s dog. Soon the pair are in a relationship.
The interactions between the characters are spoken in English, but each character gets the opportunity for brief monologues in their home country's language of French, English or Italian.
Each is unsettled by the referendum. Mrs Green speaks about all that will be lost, recalls wonderful visits to Italy and spends her time making posters opposing Brexit, or, as one poster puts it, “Brexshit”. Other posters include such slogans as “Demand a new Peoples vote” and “350 million lies”.
Isabella, commenting on the positive attitude of some English women to the EU, says there are two types, the hippies like Mrs Green and the ones likes Jacques' landlady who learned another language in school.
Jacques sees Brexit as a great opportunity for France to become a more dominant power in Europe. That’s something Mrs Green might approve given one of her posters reads “Immigrants making Britain Great since 1066”, which was the date of the French conquest of England.
Isabella frustrates Jacques by insisting on marching in support of the EU every weekend and the final nail in the coffin of their relationship is likely to be his redundancy from the bank when it relocates to somewhere in the EU.
All this feels like the outline of a story rather than a play. There is no depth or dramatic tension and very little characterisation. The occasional three-language monologues also limit the drama. The reviewer Cindy Marcolina, fluent in all three languages, tells me nothing is said in French or Italian which you would miss by just understanding English, which begs the question of why it is necessary. Surely those who understand French and Italian will feel the play is being repetitive while those who don’t understand the other languages will worry they are missing something.
It is difficult to imagine who this show might appeal to. Those wanting to hear other languages than English on stage will want those languages to be saying something significant rather than leaving the important bits to the English speakers. Those still smarting from the Brexit vote will likely want something more substantial and anyone wanting dramatic tension will have to go elsewhere.
Reviewer: Keith Mckenna