Theatre Uncut 2014 is a diverse mix of 5 plays, each of which attempt to make a comment on today’s political climate. Seeing 5 short and very intense plays back to back in this way is like standing on a busy platform at a station, and trying to have a conversation with a friend, while also trying to listen intently to everyone around you. It is an extraordinary experience.
Each year Theatre Uncut commission a selection of plays to “get people thinking and talking about what is going on in the world around them”. This years writers were Clara Brennan, Inua Ellams, Vivienne Franzmann, Anders Lustgarten and Hayley Squires.
Lustgarten’s The Finger of God took the idea of The Lottery to the extreme, in a world where The Lottery is a money making scheme for Government. To boost revenues they add punishments, to counteract the winners. Taking a literal view of the physical and mental damage that our Government are causing us.
Brennan’s Pachamama was an absurdist piece with poetic statements woven in to a loosely formed story. This form jarred the most with the concept of showing all 5 pieces together and, for me, much of what she was trying to say was lost. Like a foreign phrase, spoken to quickly for me to interpret.
Ellam’s Reset Everything centred heavily on the bedroom tax, still ever so slightly absurd in form, in that the story lines were almost unbelievable. 4 people come together because of a bedroom, and all agree that the only option is to blow the room up. Strongly suggesting that the actions of government are continuing to push some groups in society to their limit, and soon the will blow.
Franzmann’s The Most Horrific had the most appeal for me. She played with concept, 2 characters watch TV, while 2 others performed as part of a live stand up gig. In an intense burst, this play got a little deeper under my skin. Franzmann used the characters reactions to what was going on to force the audience to question how they felt, it is a classic technique which she used well. It was violent and emotional, but performed so beautifully – special mention to Faith Alabi who played the female stand up comic.
Squires’ Ira Provitt and The Man was the finale, and the most peaceful of all the plays. With just 2 characters, this play had a very different feel to the other 4. It gave chance to reflect and digest, yet also left questions unanswered, suspended mid-air. Exploring the inner workings of the mind of a politician, about to agree a new policy he doesn’t seem sure of.
What came through from all of these plays, was how, as humans, we are susceptible to the influences around us. And how we can all be willed in an activity or thought that is really quite extreme if given a certain amount of encouragement.
The stories told by Theatre Uncut 2014 left me with a desire to understand how the UKs politics effect us as members of society. This is essentially what Theatre Uncut aims to do, make political theatre more human and more accessible.