My Country: A Work in Progress

reviewed in Cambridge on 15 June

The title is spot-on accurate – both literally and subjectively. It also reminds us that history, (like borders) is a fluid thing, as much composed of fiction – aka myth – as fact. The dialogue is made up from what people up and down the UK have been saying, woven together by director Rufus Norris.

Seven actors put the mix of vox pop, actual events and hard statistics in front of us. Katrina Lindsay gives us a bare stage, except for a sequence of ballot boxes which double as desks and platforms as required. Presiding over it all is Penny Layden as Britannia, that personification which has become such a ubiquitous icon that who and what went into constructing it are extremely blurred.

The regions and countries, themselves often contructs, which make up the UK are played by the other performers subtly aided by Paul Knott’s clever lighting and Alan Caplen’s subtle drifts of appropriate music. There’s real despair as well as a type of fatalistic acceptance in many of the remarks quoted, forcing the audience to query not just “whither Britain now?” but Parl;iamentay democracy itself.

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