REVIEW: Everyday racism tackled in powerful play in Leamington

The play tackles serious issues with a comic touch. Picture: Richard Smith Photography.
The play tackles serious issues with a comic touch. Picture: Richard Smith Photography.

Nick Le Mesurier reviews I Didn’t think I was a Racist but I Killed a Romanian at the Loft Theatre, Leamington, presented by Is This Seat Taken

Provocatively titled, this play sets out to disturb as well as entertain. Its premise is that racism is not the prerogative of a few extremists, but is woven into the fabric of our everyday lives. In some it shows more than others.
Roy (Trev Clarke) and his family are having a hard time of it. Their neighbours play loud music all the time. Son Michael (Peter Meredith) works in a charity shop, daughter Violet (Kate Groves) is pregnant, Roy is about to be made redundant by his patronising, lecherous boss Frank (Craig Shelton), and wife Lydia (Amy Gardyne) struggles to keep the family together and her anger in check. They’re a family struggling to survive.
Roy isn’t a bad man. But after being fired he gets drunk and loses his temper with a noisy Romanian man in a pub, and his world collapses. It could happen to anyone, but there were noisy Englishmen in the pub at the same time: if he was going to attack someone he could have chosen one of them.
And that is the point of the play. The risk with plays about issues is that the issues come to dominate the action, and we lose contact with the characters. Fortunately this play is so shot full of humour and such strong characterisation that we are able to enjoy it as drama while at the same time made to think. It’s a hard trick to pull off, but in the hot enclosed atmosphere of the Douglas Ford Studio we get a glimpse of a hell of our own making.

* The play runs until Saturday April 8. Call 800360 to book.