Tag Archives: Theatre503

Meat

Meat

★★★★

Theatre503

Meat

Meat

Theatre503

Reviewed – 25th February 2020

★★★★

 

“Without being too polemical Greer gives clarity to a very difficult discussion with plenty of humour and humanity”

 

Throughout discussions popularised by the #MeToo social media campaign, there seems to have been a disconnect within the idea that since pretty much all women have experienced sexual assault in one form or another, it stands to reason that a whole bunch of men, and not just a handful of evil predators, have been doing it.

Perhaps the difficulty in swallowing this pill is due to the shades of horror that fall within the sexual assault bracket: no, not every man is Harvey Weinstein, but that doesn’t mean that a crime hasn’t been committed and that a woman doesn’t have the right to speak up.

Gillian Greer’s Meat seeks to navigate this very tricky arena. Max (India Mullen) has arranged to meet up with her college boyfriend Ronan (Sean Fox) to let him know she’s written about the night he assaulted her and that it’s going to be published. But Ronan claims he remembers it very differently, or is it that he doesn’t remember it at all? He’s a bit hazy on the subject.

This isn’t about whether Ronan is a villain. Rather it’s about recognising that he is, as Max puts it, “a good guy who did a shit thing.”

A story like this requires a lot of personality and Greer delivers. Mullen and Fox have a well-worn patter that feels natural and affectionate even when they’re fighting. Much of the script is taken up with friendly banter, giving the audience plenty of space to place Ronan’s transgression within a wider picture.

Jo (Elinor Lawless), manager of Ronan’s restaurant and interested party, is an excellent addition to the script because whilst she doesn’t play a pivotal role, nonetheless her character is absolutely necessary, as witness and judge to the night’s events. We’re never led to the brink of disbelieving Max, but our loyalties waver throughout, and Lawless serves as an excellent barometer in this regard. Her comic delivery is also masterful, near-on stealing the show. Set in Ronan’s fancy new meat restaurant (designed by Rachel Stone), animal carcases provide a disturbing backdrop and a constant reminder that we are in Ronan’s domain, making Max’s position all the more uncomfortable as she tries to stand her ground.

Instead of clearing the table between courses, food is thrown on the floor and smeared on the walls, which makes sense when Ronan comes to flip the table in a rage, but not a minute sooner. It’s not terribly distracting, but there just doesn’t seem to be any reason, beside it being difficult to artfully splatter food all over the stage in one table flip without covering the front row in foie gras.

The narrative drags a little in the middle, leaving me to wonder if there’s any more to say on the matter once the premise is set out, but the story does pick up and develop, and whilst there are no real surprises, the plot is- forgive the pun- surprisingly meaty.

As directed by Lucy Jane Atkinson, Meat is very much a story for the current climate. Without being too polemical Greer gives clarity to a very difficult discussion with plenty of humour and humanity.

 

Reviewed by Miriam Sallon

Photography by Alex Brenner

 

Meat

Theatre503 until 14th March

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Cuzco | ★★★ | January 2019
Wolfie | ★★★★★ | March 2019
The Amber Trap | ★★★ | April 2019
J’Ouvert | ★★★★ | June 2019
A Partnership | ★★★ | October 2019
Out Of Sorts | ★★★★ | October 2019
Spiderfly | ★★★★★ | November 2019
A Fairytale Revolution | ★★★★ | December 2019
Fragments Of A Complicated Mind | ★★★★ | January 2020

 

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Fragments of a Complicated Mind

Fragments of a Complicated Mind

★★★★

Theatre503

Fragments of a Complicated Mind

Fragments of a Complicated Mind

Theatre503

Reviewed – 21st January 2020

★★★★

 

“Many of the hard-hitting quickfire scenes are discomforting and demand serious thought, while others are incredibly funny”

 

Artistic subversion should lead to societal revolution thanks to the provocative and anarchic Fragments of a Complicated Mind at Theatre503.

Rage against how people perceive and respond to issues of black identity – a phrase the production might have problems with in itself – bursts out of Damilola DK Fashola’s series of visionary vignettes presenting the audience with no-nonsense challenge and a plea for understanding.

Rarely can a piece of theatre have tackled such a broad range of ideas around its central theme. This isn’t just a complaint about how white people are allowed to define black identity but also honestly recognises ways in which the black community has in many ways accepted and developed such definition.

It is never an easy ride: there is little by way of cohesive structure and the themes of each scene (such as “Glitch,” “Gameshow,” “Protest” and “Vaginas”) are struck off the back wall on which they are all written as the performance progresses. There is no plot to follow for this is the product of a complex mind, with a kaleidoscope of disconnected ideas examined and dissected by an animated cast of eight.

There is a running theme of language and awareness and the ease of misunderstanding in what should be, but is seldom, a multicultural society: “Being black is more than a hashtag” says one performer as the role of social media is unpicked, while another announces, “The sweetest taste I ever felt was colourless.”

Many of the hard-hitting quickfire scenes are discomforting and demand serious thought, while others are incredibly funny. All nail their points home firmly and while it is understandable that different sections of the audience will identify with and take away very different messages there are relevant questions for all to ponder.

Fashola appears as well as directs and we get her passion without a shred of breathing space. This vigorous multilayered production uses monologues, witty humour, poetry, dance, physical theatre and carefully choreographed movement for its important storytelling and the energy is infectious and unflagging.

The plain black set with white chairs may seem too obvious yet it works well, as the burgundy clad performers move around it. The sound and lighting adds extra layers of intensity with few moments of silence or stillness in the bubbling cauldron.

It is a true ensemble piece as ideas and possibly random thoughts are gathered and stirred together. Joining Fashola are Effie Ansah, Lily-Fleur Bradbury, Michelle D’Costa, Jasmeen James, Antonia Layiwola, Luke Elliott and Luke Wilson.

There are some very funny lines and situations, but one section which particularly seems to resonate with the audience stems from the reflection on living in the capital. “What is it about London that brings out the tone of my skin?” wonders one performer. “It’s a multi-cultural city that doesn’t stand for tolerance.”

It is this uncompromising stance that makes the performance so meaningful and apposite and one suspects each evening could bring a different shade to the questions of colour, subtle shifts of emphasis leading to refreshed expression.

Why the production works so well is that is limited by nothing as it seeks to make the point that we are not black or white but human. Art, politics, religion, celebrity, ancestry, image and justice are among the issues put under the microscope and even though no answers are provided to the questions raised there is ultimately a demand for the audience to go away, chew it all over and help to bring the stereotypical status quo crashing down.

 

Reviewed by David Guest

 


Fragments of a Complicated Mind

Theatre503 until 1st February

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Hypocrisy | ★★★½ | November 2018
Cinderella and the Beanstalk | ★★★★ | December 2018
Cuzco | ★★★ | January 2019
Wolfie | ★★★★★ | March 2019
The Amber Trap | ★★★ | April 2019
J’Ouvert | ★★★★ | June 2019
A Partnership | ★★★ | October 2019
Out Of Sorts | ★★★★ | October 2019
Spiderfly | ★★★★★ | November 2019
A Fairytale Revolution | ★★★★ | December 2019

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews