Citizens of Nowhere?
- Deborah Chu
- 23 August 2019
Intimate family drama with real-life political implications
There is already a frisson of tension in the air when Jun Chi and his mother Linda enter the restaurant. An actor who is currently back in his hometown of Edinburgh for the Fringe, Jun Chi is mystified and frustrated by Linda's refusal to discuss his impending wedding. The pressure mounts once they're joined by Jun Chi's sister Jane, a successful businesswoman who quickly orders a bottle of champagne and announces her plans to run as a Tory MP at an upcoming by-election.
While the trio trade rapid-fire barbs of recrimination over strawberries and fizz, the audience sit at surrounding tables, discreetly listening in on headphones. This voyeuristic element enhances the domestic drama's sense of verisimilitude, as do their bang-up-to-date references to the latest Brexit chicanery, pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and even to the Fringe itself. Luckily, Citizens of Nowhere? is less invested in being a soapbox for the characters' political affiliations, and more in exploring how their opinions and aspirations have been shaped by their experience as a British-Chinese family, which lends to the show both a nuanced perspective and a great deal of heart.
For even in the face of Jane's unapologetic conservative leanings, or Linda's nostalgia for British colonial rule, the Lo family are shown to be deeply sympathetic creatures with a bedrock of loyalty and love for each other, who are merely attempting to negotiate various aspects of their racial and cultural identity the best way they know how. Therefore, even though the show's ending may seem a bit on the neat and cheery side, it's certainly a welcome tonic to the bewildering pessimism of the present.
Sweet Novotel, until Sun 25 Aug, 2pm & 4pm, £16.