(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 4/23.)

Lynn Nottage's play arrives in London laden with American honours. And rightly so, since it offers a graphic portrait of women as perennial victims of war. More than that, it reminds us of the continuing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which rarely makes the front pages but has led to 5.4m deaths.

Nottage's focus is very precise: she deals with a bar-cum-brothel in a small Congolese mining town on the edge of the rainforest. The bar's presiding spirit is Mama Nadi who believes, like Brecht's Mother Courage, that as long as business is good and she avoids taking sides, she can survive the war. But, in the course of the action, head and heart come into conflict.


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