What does community actually mean? Does your nationality reflect the country you live in, the country you were born in, or even the country your parents were born in?
Based on interviews with residents of Peterborough, Eastern Angles’ latest production, Lincoln Road, attempts to tackle these questions. Author Danusia Iwaszko takes this look at multicultural city life and sets it in the context of a second generation Italian young man who wants to bring his community together and comes up with the concept of holding a carnival to celebrate the wide variety of nationalities who inhabit Lincoln Road.
It’s not going to be an easy task – a council facing financial cutbacks, a community who don’t talk to each other, violence, prejudice and general apathy all conspire to thwart Gianni and his carnival dreams.
What does shine through though is the strength of community, even if the community doesn’t recognise its own strengths. From moving oppression in Zimbabwe to comedy Pakistani sari-totting Aunts, as the quote goes all human life is here, all Gianni needs to do is marshal them into recognising their similarities, while also celebrating their cultural differences.
Bringing a whole community to the stage is always going to be a challenge but the cast of four (Jason Deer, Theo Devaney, Naveed Kahn and Djalenga Scott) create a string of wonderfully observed characters, shifting swiftly from character to character, nationality to nationality. Even American TV legal diva Judge Judy makes a cameo appearance.
Occasionally the script shifts slightly into lecture mode, for example when a fireman talks about his motivation, an unnecessary diversion as the character interaction is strong enough on its own to allow the audience to draw their own conclusions. Overall, though, Lincoln Road works well to chronicle the challenges facing the changing landscape of our communities.
There are obviously barriers to be faced but productions such as this can only help open up the debate
Photo: Jason Deer and Theo Devaney in Lincoln Road. Picture Mel Evans