Basil and Beattie

Written by Linda Brogan
Everyman, 11 -15 May

Reviewed by Michelle Richards

Linda Brogans’ ‘basil and beattie’ was commissioned to mark the 21st anniversary of the founding of North West Playwrights.

Plays about social realism are allowed to be harrowing and challenging . ‘basil and beattie’ is harrowing, challenging, stifling and desperate. I’m not over it yet. The lives of Basil and Beattie are filled with pending devastation. Teetering on the edge of sanity has for them become a way of life.
(I don’t know if you’re familiar with zip formatting, the condensing of computer files which then need to be expanded before they can be read).
This play is zipped. It is densely packed with loads of issues. Jamaican Basil(Wyllie Longmore) and Irish Beattie (Eileen O’Brien) are an aged mixed race couple living in Moss Side. Their relationship is a painful mixture of love, dependency and abuse. They and their daughter Lauren (Donna Alexander) are visited by Basils;’ daughter Ruby (Denise Orita) from Jamaica and her partner Neville (Everal A Walsh.) The visit is suspended in uncomfortable relationships that question worth and identity.

The play was filled with speeches in both Jamaican, Irish and sometimes mixed dialects. The dialogue was beautifully wound up in poetry, metaphor and something ‘other’ that I can’t describe. Unfortunately a lot of the dialogue was delivered in a way that was unsympathetic to untrained ears. The unfamiliar takes time to digest, and because of this I had trouble keeping up with all of the dialogue.

I look forward to seeing more from Linda Brogan.