Review: Theatre Uncut 2014 at the Soho theatre (and then Brighton, Bristol, Liverpool)

Ruairi Conaghan and Conor MacNeill in Ira Provitt and The Man. Photo  Jeremy Abrahams

Ruairi Conaghan and Conor MacNeill in Ira Provitt and The Man. Photo Jeremy Abrahams

There is a danger in talking about Theatre Uncut. Set in 2010 as a response to the public spending cuts announced by the coalition government, it challenges playwrights to write fast, raw and immediate about the world around them. 2010 is a lifetime ago, and back then we might have felt we would ride any difficulties the way we always did, persevering with our daily lives, semi-committed, occasionally thinking about the political but more often not. Four years later, things only got bleaker and more urgent, so hats off to Hannah Price and Emma Callander (co-artistic directors) because they knew back then what we all know now: thinking about political solutions is not something we can leave for later or to others.

But here is the danger: Theatre Uncut isn’t just worthy and important. It is theatre (the clue is in the title) and works perfectly fine as a theatrical event. The five plays performed are rough, fast, full of questions and storytelling ideas. Continue reading

Review: Spine by Clara Brennan, at the Soho theatre

Spine photo Richard Davenport

Rosie Wyatt as Amy. Photo Richard Davenport

Plays talk to each other, I know they do. One evening I saw James Graham’s The Angry Brigade, and the next I saw Clara Brennan’s Spine at the Soho theatre. Spine is, in essence, the angry brigade, if angry is furiously tender and livid and paralysed by answers and galvanised by questions and innocent, oh so innocent you can clearly see till the end of the world.

Spine is a little like Harold and Maude but without the sex. Was there any sex in Harold and Maude? Probably not. OK I might be wrong about Harold and Maude but I am not wrong about this: Spine is brilliant. It punches through. It’s about saying you want a revolution and actually meaning it. It’s like coming up to a closed door, knocking and screaming and kicking it down, and when it opens, it takes your breath away. It’s about people crawling out of books. It’s about the NHS (trust me, it is). It’s about a book thief at the house at the end of the road. It’s about saying “I own my vagina” more loudly and clearly than Vagina Monologues ever did. It’sĀ  about having the courage to be the mischievous warrior angel others see in you. It’s about having courage, full stop. Continue reading