Review: Octopus - Timely Comedy For An Uncertain World

Bright, angry satire on what can happen when xenophobia is taken to extremes

This bright, angry little comedy at the Tara Arts Theatre in Earlsfield is satire on a dystopian nightmare.

Here, everybody with what is called an non-indigenous heritage, however distant, is called in for any interview to determine just how British they are.

It's fast, it’s feisty, it's furious, it's funny and it's frightening, and very timely in our increasingly xenophobic post-Brexit world.

Three young women; one white, one Indian and one sort of Middle Eastern are all waiting their turn. They've all got British passports, they were born here and they're confused. There's Indian Sara (Alexandra D'Sa), a highly paid accountant; Middle Eastern looking  Schereherazade (Serin Ibrahim), a dyslectic artist, and white Caucasian Sarah (Samara MacLaren) who the authorities have discovered had a black grandfather.

They are all terrific bursting with tons of energy non-stop for just over an hour. A special call out here to Serin Ibrahim who has taken on the role with only a few days notice with no time to learn her lines or rehearse properly, but it didn't show.

It was Schereherazade (a tricky name for a dyslectic she explains to the interviewer when asked to spell it) who gives the play its name.  We're all octopusses she says, all mixed up, like me. One leg something, and one leg something else.

They all take turns to double up as interviewers. The interviewer are all Muslim women in headscarves adding another twist to the whole thing, augmented when one of them turn out to be a white Muslim convert  for goodness sake.

The action is interspersed with sudden bouts of singing, which didn't always work for me.  It gets a bit loud an screechy at times and I don’t understand what the writer means by the power of punk.  However, it made its point very well: when it comes to guarding our freedoms, we must never let our guard slip.

Octopus at Tara Theatre

By Penny Flood

July 14, 2017

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