The Theatreguide.London Review
Royal Court Theatre Upstairs December 2018
This is exactly the sort of play and production the Royal Court should be giving space and support to. I say that even though it is not wholly successful and can only be recommended to those eager to see fresh imagination and inventiveness for its own sake, without demanding clarity or even coherence.
Kendrick has something to say, and directors Helen Goalen and Abbi
Greenland have ways to say it. But they are a little more concerned with
cleverness than communication.
hourlong play opens with a string of brief scenes in which women attempt
to speak – at least a couple of them about being attacked – only to have
an unseen force stifle them by turning off their microphone, moving the
spotlight or sinking them into a stage trapdoor.
later in the evening, after a few more oblique sequences, are you likely
to realise that this opening was a symbolic representation of the way
women are silenced or marginalised in real life.
mode of using an inventive but private and too often opaque symbolic
vocabulary will run through the hour. The six actresses then emerge from a
different hole in the stage and declare themselves to be the Furies,
escaping millennia of imprisonment and really, really angry.
narrate some Greek myths – Medusa, Prometheus, Pandora – from a feminist
perspective and then announce that they're going to kill, maim and destroy
anyone who gets in their way.
the opening section we may get the general point – women are angry – while
much of the specifics remain unclear. And now things really approach
all that accumulated anger onstage opens a black hole – a real physical
imploding star that sucks up the entire universe until nothing is left but
blackness. Except that a voice in the darkness tells us that stray
surviving atoms are bumping into each other and connecting, and it is all
going to make a leap of faith and say the message of the play is that
societal abuse of women has gone so far beyond repair that the only
solution is to junk it all and start all over again. But through a
combination of private imagery, insufficient concern for the audience's
ability to keep up, and a bit of self-indulgence, writer and directors
haven't really helped very much with that guesswork.
be expected from the founders of the highly inventive physical theatre
company RashDash, Goalen and Greenland fill the hour with striking visual
imagery and demand very physical performances from their actors. There is
almost as much singing, dancing, chanting and structured movement to the
hour as there is speaking.
flash, spotlights roam the stage, one performer appears briefly in a
mirrored dress that turns her into a walking disco ball, and – perhaps
with unfortunate unintended symbolism – whole sequences are played in the
some loose sense of what is being said comes through is remarkable since
so little of the creative energy of play or production seems devoted to
communication. And so I can't recommend this to the casual theatregoer.
But if you want to see evidence of some of the sorts of theatrical invention that are being explored by creative theatrical artists, even if they don't quite add up to success, you may find much to intrigue you here. And I salute the Royal Court for giving it a platform.
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