The Collector

The Collector

Gilded Balloon

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WHAT do you do when the only way to earn a living is to work for the enemy? This is the dilemma for Nazir, the hip hop-loving translator at the heart of Henry Naylor's new play set in Iraq in 2003.

Nazir's story is told by way of three cut-up monologues spoken in turn by his partner, Zoya, and the two US army interrogators he translates for. As humanity turns to brutality, Nazir is effectively outed by one of the army captives and made a pariah, changing his and Zoya's lives forever.

There is some neat writing in Naylor's timely script, which is given a strong delivery by Ritu Arya, William Reay and Lesley Harcourt, though there are probably more imaginative ways of moving from one monologue to the other than simply turning the lights off as the actors shuffle on and off stage. An understated power prevails, however, in a piece that highlights the potentially destructive aftermath of local collaboration with enemy forces in international conflict.

Until August 25

Theatre On A Long Thin Wire


A DOZEN people are led to a tiny room at the top of the building. On a chair sits a mobile phone. It rings, and one of our number picks it up. The voice on the other end asks the person who answered the phone to repeat their words exactly, and to do everything they're asked. Over the next hour, we hear second-hand about our disembodied narrator and protagonist's every move. They're excited and in need of affirmation, but they could be telling us anything, and their apparent presence remains unverified right up until the final connection leaves us wanting.

This interactive exchange facilitated by Exterminating Angel's Jack McNamara comes laced with the trappings of a self-help psychotherapy group locked up playing pass the parcel as we're led up assorted garden paths by our unseen host. This all starts off as a bit of a wheeze, even as we're emotionally engineered to react and behave in certain ways. As the anticipation mounts, it's like taking a reverse charge call from Godot, only to be put on permanent hold in a quietly troubling disturbance.

Until August 24


Hill Street Theatre

ANYONE who has ever read Jean Genet's The Thief's Journal will know well this arch existentialist's philosophies of sex and thieving. Liam Rudden's play mines freely from such iconography, as Matt Robertson - in a striped t-shirt as the archetypal Sailor - recounts his adventures on the street and in or behind bars as he plies his trade. Like his tattoos, every anecdote is a badge of honour for Sailor, every dangerous liaison and self-inflicted flesh wound reminding him he's alive. It's not so much sex as violence and vice versa, but a mission that lacerates even as it aggrandises Sailor's soul.

In Robertson and Rudden's hands, Sailor is on a mission as he stands there with his naked tush facing the audience. His lifestyle choice is relentless, obsessive and addictive, even as he stays emotionally removed from things as he goes. This makes for a choice and at times explicit delivery, as Robertson thrusts his way through Rudden's own production with abandon, relishing every dirty little word as the ultimate piece of rough trade.

Until August 24