Theatre collective Klein Blue’s latest production, written and performed by Emily Renée, attempts to explore dual nationality, the immigrant experience and belonging in an ever-evolving British society.
Nearly 40% of London’s population are born elsewhere, and with over 300 languages spoken city-wide, there is a surprising shortage of new writing examining the varying heritages of this urban landscape. Alice follows a real British-Azerbaijani young woman navigating dual identity as she looks back at her life through the relationship of her parents.
Renée sits amongst the audience, chairs marked out for the show on both sides, creating an understated intimacy. The direction by Tamar Saphra is kept relatively simple, as Renée takes turns to stand at either end of the space. The performer impersonates other characters, but these often cross over without any defining features, though she maintains continual eye contact with her audience, and is a good actor overall.
There are more descriptions of St. Petersburg, Russia than of Azerbaijan, and it’s this missed opportunity and a lack of details in the story that render Alice a rather bland play. The music used in the show is well chosen, like Nena’s 99 Luftballons, which repeats intermittently, marking the fall of Communism.
Some parts of Alice appear unclear, as the tale makes its way through the years, and the rumbling train sounds heard from outside do not help to distinguish it; a microphone is used only right at the end of the performance. Essentially, Alice fails to explore Azerbaijani culture, and comes across as a generic love story between two individuals who settle down and have a child. As a piece that promotes itself for being the first UK production to explore British-Azerbaijani mixed identity, there is a palpable absence of the unique culture of this Eurasian country.
Read more reviews from our Vault Festival 2019 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Vault Festival website here.