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Review: Theatre

Fast Cuts and Snapshots

Fast Cuts and Snapshots

Oran Mor, Glasgow

Mary Brennan

For the guys who frequent the run-down barber's shop - realised on-stage in a nicely dingy set by Lizzie Watts for this Fuel/Oran Mor/NTS partnership - it's not really about haircuts. Most of them don't need clippers to shape up the precision fuzz on their pates. What they need is a place to hang out, relax and chew the fat about football, women, and what it means to be a black man out of Africa.

And there, amid the joshing and disputations that enliven these sparky little 'snapshots', lies the heart, and the heartache of Inua Ellams' play. For as the talk turns to the politics of home - with home being, variously, Zimbabwe or Nigeria or Ghana - what emerges is the bitter-sweet lot of the expat, and the legacy of displacement that carries over into subsequent generations who have no time for distant traditions.

Morsels of personal stories are woven into the short scenes, but these are frequently used by Ellams as a springboard into issues of racism, sexism and finding yourself as a man despite, and sometimes because, of your colour.

This conversational mosaic is activated by an exceptional cast of six - some of them playing three or four characters - with just enough rising tension to give truthful bite to the mood of laid-back geniality.

The clash of views over the 'n' word - who is 'allowed' to use it, in what context and with what intention - is just one of the raw nerves touched on here, the after-effects of how the West shaped Africa's history, its future and its diaspora is another. Strong meat, for sure, but Ellams makes it the stuff of everyday human concerns, and the basis for a mettlesome lunch-time drama.

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