Socialist Worker

Reviews round-up

Issue No. 2519

New Roger Casement graphic novel falls short of classics about period

A new graphic novel charts the last years of Irish nationalist Roger Casement’s life. In these years he was instrumental in organising the 1916 Easter Rising.

The book begins with Casement washing up on a beach, having smuggled German guns into Ireland to arm the rebellion against the British Empire.

Before becoming involved in the struggle for Irish self-determination Casement worked for the British foreign office.

He exposed the horrendous crimes of Belgium’s King Leopold II in the Congo.

He produced a report which inspired Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness.

Casement’s research played a significant part in damaging the Belgian colonial regime in the Congo.

This graphic novel is a mix of fiction and fact, slightly reminiscent of works like A Star Called Henry by Roddy Doyle.

While it falls short of classic novels such as that, it is an interesting look at the final years of an often-overlooked figure in history.

There is much for socialists to take from the book and enjoy. In particular, it ends with a transcript of Casement’s speech to the court after he is found guilty of treason.

The book sets this over a series of images such as drawings of the Easter Rising.

It ends, “surely, it is a braver, a saner and truer thing to be a rebel in act and in deed, against such circumstances as these than to tamely accept it as the natural lot of men.”

A transcript of Casement’s final speech is available to read
The Trial of Roger Casement by Fionnuala Doran. Published by SelfMadeHero

Exhibition: The Colony by Dinh Q Le

Guano, or bird droppings, was big business in the 19th century. Wars were fought over the precious commodity.

After its properties as a fertiliser became known in Europe and North America the Great Guano Rush began.

British merchants controlled the trade, using bonded Chinese labourers working in brutal conditions.

Vietnamese artist Dinh Q.Le’s video installation immerses you in footage of the desolate Chincha Islands off the coast of Peru.

These mountains of guano were at the centre of the rush.

The fascinating exhibition illuminates imperialist tensions with mid-19th century maps and photos by American Civil War photographer Alexander Gardner.

Spectacular aerial images of the islands today add another dimension.

The Colony by Dinh Q Le runs 25 August-9 October, Wed-Sun, 11am-7pm, 133 Rye Lane, Peckham, London, SE15 4ST. Free entry

Theatre: Glasgow Girls back on tour

An excellent piece of musical theatre is back on tour. The hit play Glasgow Girls is the story of seven schoolgirls—four recently arrived refugees and three local teenagers.

They ran a successful campaign against the deportation of one of their number, a Kosovo Roma girl called Agnesa Murselaj whose family were granted refugee status as a result.

The play highlights the bonds of solidarity developed between refugees and local people in working class areas.

It is at the Citizens in Glasgow this week, the Playhouse in Oxford the week after, Stirling’s Macrobert Arts Centre the following week and at Dundee Rep 12-15 October.

Written and directed by Cora Bissett and David Greig. On tour now

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Tue 30 Aug 2016, 16:44 BST
Issue No. 2519
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