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World Music

Steve Waters
Donmar Warehouse
(2004)

Steve Waters is brave in choosing the subject of genocide in Africa for this transfer from Sheffield. Making drama out of do-good left wing politicians is one thing but when their special interest is in countries where tribal slaughters take place on a tit for tat basis, there is a real danger of devaluing the subject.

Waters has a tendency to simplify some of the subject matter, as he attempts to balance the individual experiences of committed MEP Geoff Fallon (Kevin MacNally) with those of the mythical country Irundi (a cross between Rwanda and Burundi).

In the present day, Fallon has difficult relationships with his son; an African immigrant who becomes his lover; his assistant; and a particularly unpleasant party spin doctor.

His younger self, played by Paul Ready, travels to Africa as a gauche 20-year-old and finds life somewhat easier, becoming the blood brother of Ray Fearon's Jean Kiyabi and shy admirer of his female servant.

Many of Fallon's problems are self-inflicted, as he blindly and volubly supports his friends in the teeth of criticism and inescapable facts.

It is inevitable in such a story that some of the good guys turn out to have dark secrets. The only person who is surprised is the remarkably naive politician. It is most surprising that he has somehow survived into middle age in a dog-eat-dog world on no more than instinct and conviction.

Too many loose ends are tritely tied up in this drama and the characters lack depth but the subject matter is of such gravity that perhaps this is forgivable.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher