Review: Seven Joys, Tricycle Theatre

Part of The Bomb: A Partial History – First Blast season at the Tricycle Theatre

“No more kimchi for you”

 Lee Blessing’s Seven Joys was the first introduction of an (initally) light-hearted note into the Tricycle’s The Bomb – a partial history. Set in a members’ club in Washington DC, the metaphor of exclusive membership to an institution is used extremely effectively to show the impossibility of maintaining exclusivity of something that is hugely desired, especially when that something is nuclear capability.

As loud American Cal revels in his club for one, helped out by faithful butler Harry, the calm atmosphere is shattered by the arrival of the blundering Russian Slava, who brings with him his symbol of eligibility of membership – a glowing egg and his Chinese chef. But as they discuss how they intend to control what it is that they possess, it turns out that their staff have now managed to become ‘members’ too – China and Britain, along with their friend Marianne, France.

These five then set about trying to set the rules for the rest of the world, but their arrogance is assuming that they can, and indeed should be able to do this, is soon exposed as the rest of the kitchen staff each find their own back door into the club – India, Pakistan, North Korea etc, showing the hypocrisy of so much of the politicking that goes on between countries as these five big players are not at all above bending their (self-imposed) rules for any amount of political currency.

Blessing’s construct is a simple one but proves deadly effective in illuminating the power games in the rush to gain nuclear programmes and the naïveté of those that thought it was something that they could control. Rick Warden and Simon Rouse as the representatives of the USA and USSR respectively were both excellent but David Yip’s meddling Wei entertained the most as the late-to-the-party China who ends up pretty much ruling the roost.

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