A is for 'ah well', F is for fish and chips: show delivers A-Z of Englishness

English, created by National Theatre Wales and Quarantine, is a brainstorm about language and identity On either side of the stage, screens flash up words and phrases. “Accident of birth”, reads one, then it’s “accommodation”, “adrift”, “adversarial” and “afternoon tea”. As we tick through “ah well” and “ancient woodlands”, everyone in the room looks at the performer Jonny Cotsen , who is yomping around the space like a madcap professor. The order of these words is alphabetical, but what on Earth connects them? He looks as cheerfully baffled as the rest of us. National Theatre Wales’ new show certainly offers some head-scratching questions. Entitled English , it is somewhere between a linguistic puzzle and a collaborative stream of consciousness, a discourse on identity and a piece of ragtag, freeform improvisation. Created with the Manchester-based company Quarantine , it interrogates what we mean by “English”, and whom. Is English something we speak, or something we are? What is “language” anyway? If the answers are tricky to pin down, that might be a reflection of us, too. Continue reading...

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