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Review: Shipwreck, at Almeida Theatre

Lively political debate as couple snowed in at a remote farmhouse talk Trump, Bush and black history

21 February, 2019 — By Howard Loxton

Khalid Abdalla in Shipwreck. Photo: Marc Brenner

THIS world premiere of American playwright Anne Washburn’s play is set in a remote farmhouse where the liberal couple who are doing it up have invited friends for dinner but the husband fails to bring home the groceries and then cut off by snow the dinner becomes an imaginary one as they sit round the fireside and their talk turns political.

From the ineffectiveness of political theatre (Euripides’ plays didn’t stop the Peloponnesian war) to why people voted for Trump and how lies become facts, it’s three hours of discussion, which the actors make lively, offering some surprises.

These scenes are intercut with monologues from a white American who adopted a Kenyan baby and from that baby grown up, exploring racism and black history.

Fisayo Akinade is particularly fine as the latter, trying to understand the African-American experience, imagining the slave history he doesn’t inherit.

Trump is there too (Elliot Cowan at full-throttle and increasingly fantastical), visited by Bush before the Iraq invasion and in Imperial mode trashing FBI chief Jack Comey, or flashing by as a face in a succession of video images across history.

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