Theatre review: Status, Summerhall

Chris Thorpe uses a well-amplified guitar to blast out his anger with contemporary life. Picture: Contributed
Chris Thorpe uses a well-amplified guitar to blast out his anger with contemporary life. Picture: Contributed
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It’s the morning after the Brexit vote, and Chris Thorpe is up on the roof of the ­London block of flats where he lives, wondering where he is, and how much he knows – or really cares – about the country he calls home.

Status, Summerhall (Venue 26) ****

He remembers an incident in a bar in Serbia, where the mere possession of a British passport saved him from a beating by a pair of thuggish policemen; he reflects on the strange power of the imaginary lines human beings have drawn on maps, and of the national communities we create within those lines.

Then, like any self-respecting midlife artist of the last half-century, he slams out an angry metallic song or two on his viciously amplified guitar, freaks out and hits the road, fleeing from past versions of himself, and seeking some new identity – or lack of it – for new times. His journey has a wild, trippy, dreamlike quality, as his hard-rock version of magic realism takes him to the Arizona desert and to the gleaming commercial towers of Singapore, where identity matters less than cash; for complicated ­reasons, he has two British passports, but constantly strives to lose, bury or detach himself from them.

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In the end, though, shocked by a strange encounter with the voice of those who die while trying to cross the world’s borders, he comes to some kind of accommodation with his own identity as a white British man, and with the fact that even as he speaks, that identity is perhaps beginning to lose much of its former status. As ever with Chris Thorpe, the words are eloquent, the music essential and powerful, and the performance full of a brilliant, prowling precision; and in the great words of TS Eliot, the end of all his exploring is to arrive on the rooftop where he started, and to know the place for the first time.

• Until 26 August, 7:55pm