Reviewed – 28th March 2019
“a realistic insight into an unpleasant world of abuse and despair”
Since opening in 2016 the Bunker Theatre has remained true to the initial objective of being home to exhilarating and contemporary theatre, representing the world in which we live. The current season, announced as revolutionary from new artistic director Chris Sonnex, features a double bill of one-woman shows – namely Killymuck and Box Clever. Whilst each show can be seen individually on separate dates, watching both the same day is recommended, as whilst very different, together they have a connection of putting female benefits-class and working-class voices forward.
Box Clever written by Monsay Whitney tells the story of Marnie a young single mother and highlights the problems of getting into a circle of abuse, homelessness and despair. Using the same Minglu Wang set and production team as Killymuck (less the centre soil), Box Clever takes the viewer through a diverse set of emotions as Marnie’s life spirals downwards over a ten year period. It begins as extremely funny and yet as the play progresses it becomes heartbreakingly sad.
Marnie is brilliantly portrayed by Redd Lily Roche who enters the stage in white jeans and t-shirt stained with blood. She has a violent off stage boyfriend, Liam – the blood likely being from his violent behaviour towards her. Other males in her life are unpleasant towards her too.
When Marnie is telling the stories of her boyfriends and others she comes in contact with, the dialogue is exceptionally funny. One could almost imagine the character and stories being picked up by a TV producer and being a successful late evening show. Her interaction with boyfriends, her key worker and mum are all very cleverly written and fun to watch.
However as the play progresses and she goes to live at a Women’s Refuge the text becomes darker and more sinister. It is clear that she is not in the safe place she expected. Her four year old daughter is represented by a white balloon that Roche brings to life with her caring attitude to do the best for her. Her interactions with her daughter are totally believable.
The direction from Stef O’Driscoll is perfect, Joe Price’s lighting supports the drama and Benjamin Grant’s sound design underlines the tension. This piece more than anything else I have seen this year had an immediate and profound effect on me. I left the theatre inspired by the performance from Redd Lily Roche who gave a realistic insight into an unpleasant world of abuse and despair. It is an unmissable show – well done to W14 Productions and The Bunker for bringing it to a London audience.
Reviewed by Steve Sparrow
Photography by Craig Sugden
The Bunker until 13th April
Last ten shows reviewed at this venue: