A young black boy has just been stabbed in the hallway downstairs. The neighbours are sad but ultimately, not surprised. This one-woman show follows the lives of these working-class people in this typical London block.
Women’s anger is often expected to be suppressed or contained rather than be unleashed on the world. Otherwise, we risk being labelled ‘crazy’ or ‘a bitch’, no matter what injustice we experience. But Femi can’t hold it in anymore. The night before the group of white men who killed her killed her brother Seun on Margate’s beach face charges of manslaughter, his ghost visits her to share the truth of his death. Initially baffled by her dead brother’s appearance, she is transformed into an embodied fury that cannot and will not stop until she gets revenge.
In the programme notes, director Graham Watts states, “there are hundreds of astonishing plays written by women that have never seen the light of day…Let me be clear. These are not ‘lost works’. They’ve never been considered and were simply ignored.” This world premiere by the writer of Machinal proves his point. Though several of Sophie Treadwell’s 39 plays were produced on Broadway, this one from 1954 – one of her last, and demonstrative of her skill and experience – has never before been produced.
Michael and his best mate Charlie are typical teenage boys – they just want to hang out and play Fifa and party. Michael’s patient girlfriend Liv is often at their side, his mum is there to fret and nag, and his half-brother Josh reliably winds him up. They’re 17 and life is good – until it isn’t.
First things first – finding the Network Theatre at The Vault Festival feels like going on a secret mission. Coincidentally or not, the venue perfectly suits a play about post-war, underground organised crime in South London.
It’s no secret that the social class system in this country has marginalised the working classes, with women pushed to the absolute fringes of society. To the world outside their immediate circle, sometimes no bigger than the street they live on, they are invisible. Solo shows Opal Fruits and Dangerous Lenses, though radically different in style, seek to change that by centering the working class woman’s experiences and demanding attention for those wilfully forgotten.
Neil is a fragile music journalist who hasn’t reconciled with his lack of success as a musician when he is kidnapped by ageing gangster Danny Machin. Danny wants Neil to write a moving exposé explaining that at heart, he’s a decent sort of chap. As Neil and Danny get to know each other in a remote Irish cabin, Neil’s past mistakes are revealed, along with his childhood friendship with a lad who went on to become an internationally renowned rockstar.
There’s so much humanity in the seedy underbellies of cities that’s easily sneered at by the white middle classes. Yet sex workers and drug dealers, corrupt cops and pterodactyls in Che Walker’s LA prevent the city from becoming a sterile, corporate hell occupied solely by the rich.
Novelist Arthur Whitney is murdered at his surprise birthday party his wife throws for him. When a young and keen police officer arrives to secure the scene and do some preliminary investigating, he encounters a bizarre collection of characters who all have reason to kill the writer and are totally unbothered by his death. So whodunit?
There have been several different mediums focusing on the story of the female prisoner, especially from the US and Gilded Butterflies, while following this same theme, pays particular attention to the prisoner herself. It gives her story a voice and allows for a deeper understanding of her perspective. This two-hander is a lovely exploration of not believing everything you hear.