City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Troublesome People, Quaker Meeting House, Review

By Bill Dunlop - Posted on 13 August 2015

Show details
Ashrow Theatre
Running time: 
Rowan Scarborough (producer), Frank Simms (director) Kevin Jenkins (set and costume designer)
Rowan Scarborough (Leni Herschon), Jenny Earl (Mrs Stanton), Harry Owens (Sam Banks), Shelley Draper (Doreen Humber), Alison Harris (Honey Banks), Glen Kinch (Ossie Humber), Phil Reeve (Leo Tebrich)

It is perhaps only in the last twenty years or so, thanks to the movement to document ‘history from below’, that we have become aware of previously forgotten or ignored events.

‘Troublesome People’ attempts to show something of the experience of conscientious objectors and internees through the lives of a handful of characters on the Isle of Man.

The title is presumably a quote, although this reviewer has failed to identify it, and what we are offered here doesn’t really live up to any expectations it suggests.

It’s all a bit too civilised, given that Man became a dumping ground for many different types of people an embattled state had neither the time, resources or inclination to differentiate.

Thus Austrian and German Jews, Italians, British fascists and others Government found sufficiently suspicious were all interned on Man.

We’re only given hints of the tensions this produced here, and although the characters presented have odd moments when some dramatic tension appears to be about to be injected, they are all too ‘nice’ to allow this to happen.

Instead, it feels as if we are watching an extended episode of a soap opera, lurching gently from one minor crisis to the next without a prospect of dramatic resolution.

Conscientious objector Sam Banks (Harry Owens) and his wife Honey (Alison Harris) work on the farm of Doreen (Shelley Draper) and Ossie (Glen Kinch) Humber, to be joined by refugees Leo Terbrich (Phil Reeve) and Leni Hisrschon (Rowan Scarborough). Given the current public panic over refugees one might have expected rather more to be made of historical parallels, but what ensues is a series of mainly domestic crises with little reference to outside events. The two themes of conscientious objection and refugee status are not fully linked (it may not be possible to do so) which further qualifies our sympathies.

Theatre has the capacity to reach parts of us ‘the facts’ never can. There is as yet no ‘definitive’ history of refugee internment in the Second World War, and sadly there may never be, but in spite of good intentions, ‘Troublesome People’ scarcely adds to our understanding.

Til 29th August, 8.15pm