Home pride in this fun but smart theatre production
National identity is one of the most divisive issues in Britain, with the post-Brexit fall-out still fresh in people's minds. Afsaneh Gray's intelligent yet playful Octopus grapples with notions of Britishness and what it means to belong in 2016.
Centring around three women, daffy artist Scheherazade (Dilek Rose) uptight, posh accountant Sara (Alexandra D'Sa) and yummy mummy type Sarah (Rebecca Oldfield) who desperately tries to be PC, there are many uncomfortable laughs as the trio's lives collide outside an interview room. They deal with officious pen pushers who try to impose racial inaccuracy onto them to fit into neat, government-approved forms.
Scheherazade in her homemade Slits t-shirt is the most interesting character: a confused rebel, half-Iranian, half-Jewish, who wants to smash the system but needs to work within it to make her 'punk tapestries'. Rose infests her with a goofy charm, and there's a lovely dynamic between the three, as they tentatively rail against bureaucracy. Some moments are cringeworthy, yet recognisable, such as Sarah's attempt to bond with Sara by simply listing curries, or Sara's meltdown in the office.
The episodic structure, and bursts of noise and music by Serafina Steer, work beautifully for this piece. But for all the references to Pulp, X-Ray Spex and the Slits – all bands who embraced the outsider – it needs to hit a little bit harder to be truly impactful. Still, a worthwhile, engaging piece with an excellent cast, a raft of eccentricities, and thoughtful lines which are sure to provoke interesting debates.
Assembly George Square Theatre, until 28 Aug, 1.45 pm, £10–£11 (£9–£10).