One Million Tiny Plays about Britain – Citz

Rating: ★★★½☆

A very last minute dash took me to the theatre last night, having won a pair of tickets on twitter earlier in the afternoon. (I’m fast becoming fixed in my opinion that theatre and opera should, like the NHS, be free at the point of delivery). The dash was rewarded with an evening of playlets, each barely more than a couple of minutes long, sewn together to form a patchwork of glimpses of life in contemporary Britain.

All of life was here and all of life was played out by three actors who accents changed as often as their clothes.

Is this a play or a collection of sketches? Well, it is difficult to care when the evening proves as entertaining as this. Humour, pathos and wit competed for our attention as the various fragments of conversation were brought to life. This is theatre for our channel flicking, attention deficient, post modern society which raises the fundamental question, what is Britain about; is there a collective narrative that binds us all together?

Themes did emerge in the course of the evening. Barely suppressed rage simmered beneath quite a few of the characters. Mutual incomprehension between different ethnicities was obvious. And our love-lives seem, well, all too real when we see them played out by other people.

This play (or collection of plays) is a bold but overall successful experiment. There were some puzzles though. Why did one set of characters recurr whilst no-one else did. Why did the pair of Glasgow litterpickers re-appear as the penultimate play? Had they been at the end, it might have rounded the evening off rather more neatly. Yet maybe that was the point. We carry our drama within us and strew it out on every pathway we walk. Our pleasures and our pains create the most complex chaos of everyday emotion that is instantly recognisable in others yet which doesn’t quite make sense from any perspective than our own.

This is theatre with narrative but little meta-narrative. It occupies a psychological space somewhere between The Blue Room/La Ronde and The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other. Yet this is La Ronde with no knickers and The Hour in which the mime is mostly done in words.

All three cast members, Sushil Chudasama, Mark McDonnell and Pauline Turner work hard and work well.

Both compelling and funny, this is theatre that makes us to look around about ourselves and also to look within.

Well worth a night out at the Citz, even if you do have to buy a ticket.


Brian Donaldson in the Scotsman – 4 stars