I Can Go Anywhere review – asylum seeker’s mod makeover | Stage

Jimmy says he doesn’t want to be a story. An asylum seeker in Glasgow, he refuses to be defined by the trauma that has brought him here. Rather, his hunger for a positive identity has drawn him to a peculiarly British form of youth culture. Dressed in a natty check suit and hanging up his parka, he intrudes on a stranger’s flat and reveals his true self: “I’m a fucking mod.”

It’s a characteristically funny premise for Douglas Maxwell’s two-hander, which teases and cajoles us with questions about how we see ourselves. Behind our national identity (the primary point of interest to any immigration authority) lies a complex web of loyalties, from sexual orientation to pop culture.

Playing Jimmy with a staccato restlessness in Eve Nicol’s frisky production, Nebli Basani seeks his soul salvation in the home of Paul McCole’s self-absorbed academic, Stevie. He is the author of a study called Beat Surrender, which turns out to be less a celebration of mod subculture, as Jimmy imagines, than a broadside against the commodification of working-class rebellion.

Where Jimmy yearns to belong, Stevie bemoans his lot as an eternal outsider. Which isn’t to say he doesn’t share Jimmy’s faith in the unifying power of music. It’s just they’re coming at this identity game from opposing poles. Rarely have two characters sustained a conversation for so long at such cross-purposes.

If the ending seems clumsy and half-resolved, I Can Go Anywhere stands as a witty provocation, needling liberal assumptions about immigrants and quizzing establishment values of what constitutes culture. It is also honest about the allure of tribalism and the emotional pull of music.

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