INTRUDER | INTRUZ at the VAULT Festival
“There’s a lot packed into this sixty five minute show, and it will make you think”
Polish actor Remi Rachuba gives a high octane account of his early experiences teaching English in his one man show Intruder/Intruz. The most important part of this story, however, is not that Rachuba goes to Scotland to be a teacher, but that he wants to come to Scotland to follow his dream of becoming an actor. Such a circuitous route into the acting profession is, as might be expected, fraught with pitfalls. Rachuba, to his credit, manages to present this tale in a way that is by turns, funny, horrifying and ultimately uplifting.
Intruder/Intruz begins, after a comic lesson in Glaswegian slang, with a violent mugging. What follows is a non-linear telling of Rachuba’s attempts to report the crime against him, and participate in restorative justice against his attackers. Switching rapidly between scenes set in Glasgow, Warsaw, and Edinburgh, among others, Rachuba presents us with a play about a man who refuses to be beaten down even when he is being beaten up.
Intruder/Intruz is an unusual piece because it is told in English, Polish and Glaswegian. Rachuba is obviously fluent in all three—no mean feat. This fact is important because Intruder/Intruz is not just a drama about an English teacher struggling to teach in extraordinarily difficult circumstances, and about a series of attacks, both physical and linguistic, upon him. Audiences might be forgiven for thinking that the Intruder in the title is just a reference to Rachuba’s attackers, and the phobias that threaten his psychological well being after the event. But Intruz has another meaning as well. That of the intruder—an unwelcome immigrant—arriving in a foreign land. Intruder/Intruz is an eye opening account of the violence that immigrants have to reckon with, as they move to a different country to pursue a dream. There’s a lot packed into this sixty five minute show, and it will make you think.
Intruder/Intruz is also not the most accessible of shows unless you are, like its creator, fluent in English, Polish and Glaswegian. If you aren’t, quite a few of Rachuba’s words are going to be lost because there are no subtitles to help. It’s hard to tell from moment to moment where you are in time in the story, as Rachuba switches with breath taking speed from present to past and back again. He is an engaging performer, and director Marcus Montgomery Roche makes the most of the space at the Network Theatre. But the threads of Rachuba’s narrative bend and weave until suddenly, without much warning, you’re at the end. The individual scenes in Intruder/Intruz, such in Rachuba’s classroom with his special needs students; his acting audition; his encounter with a student in a Polish casino before an important English test, are memorable—and wryly humorous. These moments of comedy contrast vividly with the violence that is at the heart of this piece. And there are also moments when you wonder how Rachuba could ever summon up the courage to return to the places where he was under such constant attack.
If you’re looking for a solo show that is distinctively different, and you don’t mind a linguistic challenge—you will find Intruder/Intruz well worth your time. It is an energetic show from an actor who left Warsaw and came to Glasgow to realize his dream.
Reviewed on 28th January 2023
by Dominica Plummer
Photography by Robin Mitchell
Other shows reviewed at VAULT Festival: