I Can Go Anywhere – Traverse

I can go anywhere by Douglas Maxwell is a play inspired by Mod subculture, a 1960s British trend popular to affluent post-war baby boomers, who chose to consciously invest in fashion and music. Mods wore Italian slim-fit suits, parka jackets with the Union flag and Royal Air Force roundel, they listened to jazz, soul or R & B music, and rode motor scooters.

Appropriately titled, I can go Anywhere, from the Mod anthem Anyway Anyhow Anywhere, the play portrays the relationship between asylum seeker, Jimmy (Nebli Basani), who believes that his Britishness can be proven by integrating into and mimicking Mod culture, and Stevie (Paul McCole), a dejected academic who once wrote a book on Mod culture analysis.

Jimmy’s a character who puts effort into appearing Mod and exaggeratedly so, donning a tie, tailored suit, and a parka jacket with Union Jacks, strong Scottish accent, and an eccentric, excited and restless mannerism. It soon becomes clear this Mod persona is a way for Jimmy to legitimise his integration into British society to the Home Office, who have yet to approve his claim on asylum. Jimmy is convinced that getting Stevie, an author on Mod culture, to become his referee is the only way for him to stay in Britain.

He visits unannounced, which surprises Stevie, a jaded academic who specialises in youth movements, as he’s jerked back into reality after moping about a recent breakup. Conversation about Mod identity ensues between the two, digging into whether Mod culture, initially meant to be the distancing of baby boomers from the ways of their parents’ generation, was as subversive and unique as it was made out to be.  As originality dwindles down once everyone adopts the same subculture, this is questionable, and leaves the question: was Jimmy actually a Mod?

Jimmy is definitely the more mysterious character: It is never certain where or what he’s running from.  He stands out as the strangely optimistic person – it’s unclear whether that’s his persona or his actual personality.  Therefore, his actual personality remains a mystery and he represents the younger ‘Mod’ who’s markedly different from the older, jaded and ‘average’ generation, Stevie.

However, Stevie’s sexuality also markedly disturbs Jimmy, which shows a gulf that separates people not just in terms of generation, but also in terms of sexuality. Yet, it’s again unclear whether Jimmy is queer or not, as he could be disturbed for a number of other reasons, such as trauma. This raises a complex question.  Do people come to Britain, as queer people, who escape homophobia in their countries?  Or as non-white people who are pressured to integrate with their white British peers, thus adopting the way in which those around them reject other people who are different to them?

In some ways, the ‘Mod’ can ‘go anywhere, live anyhow, do anything,’ as the titular song claims, and Jimmy and Stevie eventually accept each other, despite their differences.  Therefore, I Can Go Anywhere is reminiscent of the message of liberation, free will and flexible, changing mindset that’s integral to Mod identity.


PHOTOS: Lara Cappelli

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Shin Woo Kim

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