LINCOLN ROAD: Art & Soul Magazine
A short play, called ‘Lincoln Road’, written about Peterborough, playing almost every day for a month, that’s free to get into? It’s going to be rubbish, right?
Wrong. The Eastern Angles Theatre Company are based in Ipswich, and exist to bring theatre to new audiences in the East Anglia region. In order to engage with local people and pique the interest of those who might not be regular theatre-goers, their writers create plays which are set in, and are about, the areas in which they are performed. For ‘Lincoln Road’, writer Danusia Iwaszko and other staff at the company have meticulously researched Peterborough, its geography, demography, and the issues that affect the city, and the depth of research shows.
The play is about a group of people who want to put on a carnival in Peterborough, both as a way of promoting the city and drawing in visitors, but also to celebrate its diversity and unite its multitude of cultures. The company have astutely identified Lincoln Road as the embodiment of the multi-cultural issues the city faces. The plan is that each nationality or culture will have its own float, and the carnival will process along Lincoln Road, ending in the city centre. The play follows Gianni and Nadeeda as they meet with representatives from each cultural group and try to bring them together for the event.
There are only three actors in ‘Lincoln Road’, and the character changes are as seamless as they are sudden. As Nadeeda speaks of the dread of visiting her Pakistani aunts, Gianni and the African volunteer Awande jump up and instantly become the two aunts, twirling around in their saris and gossiping about their niece. All of the city’s cultural groups are deftly portrayed; from the Italians who came over to work in the brickyards after the war, to the newly arrived Eastern Europeans, and the ‘native’ English who are, in fact, no more native than most of the other groups in the city.
In little over half an hour, Eastern Angles manage to identify one of Peterborough’s most burning issues, create a story around it, and make some pertinent and thought-provoking points (the originally optimistic Gianni’s disillusionment when the multi-cultural ‘Bring A Dish’ evening descends into a food fight between the nationalities has particularly symbolic poignance), while producing some top quality acting and the sort of escapism any good play provides.
‘Lincoln Road’, along with another production, ‘Lion & Unicorn’, runs until 5th December. If you’re reading this before that date, get down to see it while you still can, and if you’re reading after, keep an eye out for the name, as Eastern Angles will be back in the city sometime in 2010.
Patrick Burke, Art & Soul Magazine.