Review: The Big Idea – PIIGS, Portugal, – Royal Court via YouTube

“Progress has not been as pronounced as expected”

The Portuguese take on The Big Idea was Farewell to the Old Country, written by Sandra Pinheiro and responded to by April de Angelis in Articipation, with snatches of verbatim interviews interspersed throughout, and as seemed to be something of the model, ranged from the harrowing (from the native playwright) to the surreal (from the Brit). Pinheiro’s story involved a family who had taken the difficult decision to emigrate from Portugal in pursuit of work and new beginnings, but having opted to make a staggered departure – letting the husband go first to get settled – the enormity of their choice makes the wife question what is most important. 

For they have a child and she will be left with her grandma and though Dad has put up with it for six months, Mum is now having a crisis of faith. Told mainly via the medium of Skype, it formed an interesting look at how far people are willing to go in order to make change happen but also how far they are willing to let others go for them. The strain put on this marriage is unimaginably huge and though one is left appalled, there’s an element of understanding about it too.

De Angelis’ (initially) lighter piece centres on a music workshop, looking at ways of addressing “issues” as leader Jessica describes them through the medium of fado, traditional mournful Portuguese folk song. There’s a deal of easy humour, poking fun at liberal arty types and processes, so when the darker turn does come, it is something of a surprise and not one that really worked on any level for me.

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