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Eastern Congo. Home to the deadliest conflict since World War II.
London. Home to a festival to raise awareness of Congo.
That is if Stef can get it off the ground.
Adam Brace’s anarchic and provocative play unpacks the problems of doing something good about something bad. And who gets to do it.
They Drink It in the Congo premiered at the Almeida Theatre, London, in August 2016.
Dramatically interesting scenes communicate serious situations with a light hand through lively character interactions. This production confirms Brace as a writer to watch.
You have to admire the ambition of Adam Brace. In his 2009 play Stovepipe, he looked at the use of private security companies in Iraq. Now he tackles the vast question of how we come to terms with what is happening in the Democratic Republic of the Congo… Brace is one of the few British dramatists to think internationally… The play urgently addresses the paradox of celebrating a country’s culture while ignoring the political realities… Brace’s great achievement is to have raised awareness of the Congo while charting Stef’s failure to accomplish the same end.
A sharply funny look at charity in this country, but it also, most vitally, sheds light on one of the most shocking conflicts of our time.
Adam Brace’s play begins with a provocation, warning, apology and knowing wink, all rolled into one… High-minded geopolitical theory rubs up against Um Bongo jokes; mass rape clatters into a live rumba band. There are more layers than your average onion. The dark heart of the piece is white guilt:..The play, though, is powered by its humour. PR man Tony gives voice to British complacency and ironic racism (or here, perhaps, ironic ironic racism), and one superb scene has him trying to learn the history of the Congo in four and a half minutes; a scary militia group is undercut in a Buster Keaton-esque scene in which they are literally caught with their trousers down; CongoVoice’s line-up boils down to a supercilious American author, a dance troupe from Tottenham and Congo’s answer to Bernard Manning.
The play takes on board the ‘white lens’ difficulties involved (of presumption, authenticity
etc) and wrestles with them with exuberance and humour… in this stimulating, wide-ranging and often very funny play.
An informative, harrowing, and unexpectedly funny chunk of theatre that adroitly steers clear of cultural tourism and packs some devastatingly powerful punches.
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