The Theatreguide.London Review
Royal Court Theatre Spring 2008
Debbie Tucker Green's new 45-minute play tells a too familiar story, and its familiarity is central to its power.
We meet a British Caribbean family - parents, adult daughter, schoolboy son - as they start their day, and then learn that one of them is killed in a moment of street violence.
The fact that the event would hardly be newsworthy to anyone but those involved is unspoken but underlines the depth of the horror to those who are involved. As the sister says, 'Random don't happen to everybody. So how come 'random' have ta happen to him?'
All the power of the play lies in that central horror, and lines like 'Death used to be for the old' and 'Nothing can make this difference go away' have to resonate in their simple directness. However over-familiar the story, it is always worth retelling when told so movingly.
Whether putting it on stage adds much is another question. The play is performed by a single actress, Nadine Marshall, who simply stands - if she ever moved her feet, I missed the moment - on a bare stage, playing mother, sister, brother and a few other minor characters.
She makes little distinction among the voices, except that the mother inconsistently has a stronger Caribbean accent, so that she may be well into a speech before you even realise she's switched characters. (Reading the text afterwards, I was repeatedly surprised to discover which character spoke which lines.)
The actress and director Sacha Wares might have served the playwright better had they worked out clearer differences in voice, body language or even position onstage for each of the characters.
As it is, I suspect that just reading the text would carry as much power as seeing it performed.
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