I Know I Know I Know
Reviewed – 9th April 2022
“thoughtful and powerful”
The young company DONOTALIGHT brings to the stage a compelling play by Flora Wilson Brown that speaks for the new generation.
A minimal set (Victoria Maytom) comprises some rubber plants positioned on random flight cases. A central shoddy brown sofa, set obliquely, doubles as the front seats of a car.
Alice (Hannah Khalique-Brown) enters the darkened space (Lighting Designer Ryan Day), her face illuminated by the screen of a mobile phone into which she is about to tell her story; the only way she can come to terms with putting her years of trauma into words.
Max (Ethan Moorhouse) and Hannah (Martha Watson Allpress) meet as old university mates, lift-sharing as they drive to Bristol for a mutual friend’s wedding. The bride is Hannah’s former flame, it transpires. Enlightened direction (Harry Tennison) has the couple move freely about the space, engaging in rough and tumble, falling into slow motion scenes, all the while the car journey continues.
These two scenarios occur together in the same space and yet lie a distance apart. Sometimes the conversations coincide and the same words are spoken. At other times there appears a parallel mood between them. At first the technique seems clumsy and I fear that I cannot follow the two stories simultaneously; I worry I am missing something crucial. But the initial clash is intended and it sorts itself out as things progress.
Martha Watson Allpress and Ethan Moorhouse both excel in the relaxed friendship between Hannah and Max. Their smiles, laughter, and repartee are natural and free flowing. If Max is just a bit too much boy-next-door to be a convincing world-leading rock musician, maybe even megastars have a day off from their on-stage personas. Hannah Khalique-Brown is outstanding as the exposed and vulnerable Alice in what is essentially an extended monologue. Her initial quirky mannerisms underlining Alice’s inherent nervousness develop into something else as she finds the courage to speak out, not just for herself but for others too. Some curious staging of a final scene as Alice talks of the future for the only time in the play is marred by her passive positioning, speaking upstage.
Flora Wilson Brown’s thoughtful and powerful script raises so many questions concerning behavioural responsibility and culpability, coercion, and self-doubt. If anyone should consider that the abuses brought to light through the #MeToo movement are only historical then Flora Wilson Brown’s direct and dynamic writing should redress those thoughts. It is only up to us to listen.
Reviewed by Phillip Money
Photography by Ellie Kurttz
I Know I Know I Know
Southwark Playhouse until 16th April
Previously reviewed at this venue: