Arts: Most Welcome Identity Crisis

Article excerpt

Byline: ROBIN GREER

Just when you thought there was nothing more that local absurdist theatre group Ridiculusmus could do to surprise, they come up with Where Are You From, which played at the wonderful Belfast Circus Space over the weekend.

Where Are You From is an extremely serious play, delivered single-handed and brilliantly by Patrizia Paolini, which rakes through the varying perceptions of immigrants, or as they are often known as nowadays, asylum seekers.

Victim, scrounger, lackey, sophisticate, exotic beauty, threat or opportunity to exploit? The immigrant was presented as all these and more through a series of characters whose lives interconnected.

Each character is seen from a range of viewpoints, by themselves, other immigrants and through the filter of the viewers' own experience - if only that which has been garnered from the tabloids.

Patrizia Paolini presented each with an amazing empathy. She described her characters circumstances naturally: to explain the reality of their lives, not to solicit pity.

She offered no answers to the questions of identity, nationality or rights of displaced (if you are poor) or mobile (if you are rich) people, rather she exposed a complex web of morality and logistics that can not be brushed away with either racist or politically correct sound bites. …