Extremism – Edinburgh Fringe 2018

Miss Tomlinson called the police, and now Jamal has been taken away. Because of Prevent. As the school day begins, his classmates are left to try and figure out why. As rumours and blaming spiral out of control, the classroom steadily descends into fear and paranoia. JAM Productions’ performance of Anders Lustgarten’s ‘Extremism’ pulls you in by the collar and refuses to let go. It is a riveting watch, elevated to greatness by the sheer talent of its performers.

With many references to real-life incidents surrounding the Prevent policy, the conversations held by the students in ‘Extremism’ feel frighteningly plausible. The effects of sensationalist tabloid journalism, the over-policing of British Muslims, and the omnipresence of global terror all play a role in forming the students’ outlooks and beliefs. The play offers society a window into the terrifying ways that modern politics and the way we deal with terrorism can be interpreted by and influence our children. It is a deeply important message, and one that is conveyed smartly and effectively in this phenomenal performance.

With a 40-minute runtime, ‘Extremism’ is the shortest play I’ve seen this Fringe. Thus, it is remarkable that it is also easily the most tense and gripping performance I’ve seen. The actors play off each other with effortless fluidity. The pace and naturalism of the performers truly pulls you back into the classroom environment we all recognize. Given the relative youth of the actors, the power and intensity of their performances is stunning. Every character stands out, every line hooks you into the action, and every emotion feels unnervingly real.

The play’s production value is of a professional standard. It is a slick, polished show and it would be of no great surprise to see any of its performers progress through this industry in the future.

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Jonathan Barnett

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