24 December 2011 | didi-5
Something quite different
Andrea Dunbar wrote two plays before she died tragically young at the age of 29 - 'The Arbor', of which we see snatches and scenes here, and 'Rita, Sue and Bob, Too', which was made into a well-regarded film.
This drama-documentary is rather different to the usual type because not only does it use real interview and actual footage of Dunbar from her TV appearances, but uses real interviews with her family and friends which are then lip-synched (very well) by professional actors. This sounds like a gimmick, but we very quickly forget we are not watching the real people talking about their lives - when we do get jolted out of this by associations with other work (George Costigan 'plays' Dunbar's partner but also of course was 'Bob' in the aforementioned film), it still somehow works.
Dunbar's story was a tragic one, one of wasted talent and a toxic life, to some degree, although her children - mixed-race Lorraine and Lisa - have very different stories about their childhood and the impact their mother had on them. Lorraine's story is just as tragic in its way, and we follow that following the description of Andrea Dunbar's death.
A new and dynamic way of presenting real people's issues and problems, 'The Arbor' is very possibly something Dunbar could have created herself had she lived. As it is, it stands as an interesting memorial to her talent.