Review: My Country: A Work In Progress

National Theatre
Citizens Theatre until 1 Apr
Visit for tour dates.

5 Stars (5 / 5)

My Country; A Work In Progress is a show where its content far exceeds its form. Not to say that its form isn’t good–in fact it is extremely clever. Directed by Rufus Norris, it is a verbatim piece framed with a meeting of characters that represent the different territories and their voices to discuss the future of the United Kingdom: Britannia (Penny Layden), Caledonia (Stuart McQuarrie), Cymru (Christian Patterson), East Midlands (Seema Bowri), North East (Laura Elphinstone), Northern Ireland (Cavan Clarke) and the South West (Adam Ewan).

However, what really seals the deal for this production is how fresh and relevant the material is. This show is literally made up of words taken from hundreds of interviews around the UK, and poetically curated by Carol Ann Duffy, about its inhabitants, their lives, and their attitudes towards Brexit. As soon as the show starts, the theatre is buzzing with tension, but more importantly, a willingness to listen. And this act of listening is the heart of the piece; that maybe the situation, or how everyone feels about it, would be different if there had been more listening. Of course, like any fantastic piece of theatre, it is not all talk. The characters sing, dance, drink and argue like lads in a pub, taking the audience through a spectrum of emotions and memories that have brought us to the present.

An audience makes a comment about how meaningful it is to be watching a show like this the night before Article 50 is triggered. Amidst political instability and continuous uncertainty, if there is one show anyone should watch this year, it is My Country. There is nothing more to say. Listen.