Set in a train station without any trains, David Greig’s border-town drama delves into issues of global conflict and local identity. Through the exploration of relationships and borders, those that are new, old, secure and otherwise, contemporary concerns of internal and external displacement are brought to light within Europe and strike a familiar chord with the past. Audiences will be asked to reconfigure their idea of home throughout this play, or else run the risk of dislocation within themselves. There are no more trains in this station.
Performed in the Leeds Playhouse’s Pop-up Theatre, Europe is a play inspired by Greig’s own experience travelling throughout the continent; consequently, the peoples and places explored within the play are as varied and imaginative as any such trip would be. The set does much to support this aim as a train station, albeit a soon to be obsolete one, is the perfect environment for such worlds to collide in full force. The train tracks and station platform especially manifest a liminal space and create a visceral sense of unease – the tracks may be unused; however, trains still pass through. As a reminder of a world beyond the platform – this makes it all the more uncomfortable when someone steps beyond the platform lines.
Whilst the acting and set up were both spot on, with subject matter that’s still all too real today, there are, however, points where a bit of subtlety wouldn’t go amiss; the narrative is sufficient enough without feeling the need to point out how ambiguous the location setting is every other scene.
Regardless, Europe is a play which gets its point across and does so with style and simplicity which is becoming of small-town life. Never for a moment do you lose sight of the fact that there is a whole world both within and beyond this play.
Photo credit: Nils Maudal