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A CurtainUp London Review
The enigmatically named Cyprus, another island with a much warmer climate, is the nearest station for British forces monitoring the situation in what we call the Near East. The play is actually set on the Isle of Mull. Here, a little like John Le Carré's George Smiley, a retired and discontented spy, Brian Traquair (Sandy Neilson), disapprovingly observes the conduct of the British government in Iraq. He is being visited by his grown up daughter, Alison (Beth Marshall). Into the mix comes Mike Griffen (Alasdair McCrone), currently employed by the secret service and one time friend of the family.
What follows is a three handed game of Spy, as we try to second guess the motives of each member of the cast. The play is an intellectual exercise in which we observe the guarded way these people play their cards and place their bets. They discuss time in Cyprus, in Bahrain and recently the war in Iraq. The question is raised whether espionage feed terrorism. There are allusions to the suicide of Dr David Kelly, another malcontent in government service. The play unfolds on the 6th of July 2005, and judging by the newspaper headlines the next day, which herald the British Olympic win -- the parade for which was promptly rained on by the London Tube Bombings of 7/7. is
The all Scottish cast, one of whom, McCrone, is the Artistic Director for Mull Theatre, are all very secure in their parts. Sandy Neilson in particular is enigmatic as the "Colonel" as he talks about the betrayals with his long face and drooping eyelids, he is full of Scottish reserve and Presbyterian self discipline. We are told that Traquair keeps his medal he received secretly from the Queen in a drawer in the kitchen. Griffen on the other hand is more bluster and bravado. Alison may just be a vehicle for the other two.
The set is a simple living room and I was taken with the care paid to stacking the bookshelves with political tomes. I cannot in fairness reveal any more about the plot because Cyprus is a thriller. There is much to like about this unassuming production which is as quiet as the island it has come from.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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