Published by Impact Magazine (Online) March 15, 2014.
Centred around three causes each performer wants to stand up for, Playful Acts of Rebellion uses visual storytelling to produce a unique piece of theatre; involving multi-rolling, spotlighting and audio clips to present different events in the actors lives and audience participation to start discussion around the issues presented.
Taking place in Nottingham Playhouse’s smaller Neville Studio, it seemed obvious from entering that this would not be a standard play; each member of the audience was given a leaflet to fill in asking us to pick one thing we would fight for – Hannah’s campaign against domestic violence, Ria’s anti-capitalist leanings or Kristy’s crusade against food waste.
It underlines that this play is very much a product of contemporary life
The set was instantly intriguing; a large banner, with an assortment of political phrases which shouted ‘No More Page 3’, ‘People before profits’, ‘Taste it don’t waste it’. A quick re-enactment of ‘Pussy Riot’ set up play with Ria, Kristy and Hannah being inspired to become activists themselves. As the performance progressed, it became clear each character’s story was that of the actors themselves. This moment of realisation was when the piece became a lot more relatable.
The use of a chalkboard of the side to title and date each flashback makes you realise this production is the accumulation of years of experiences. The personal nature of it makes each story even more poignant. I particularly enjoyed the use of both on-stage and previously recorded videos. It was quite innovative and underlines that this play is very much a product of contemporary life.
The best parts were when each performer stepped out of character and passionately spoke about something they had achieved
Each member was granted flashbacks to explain their journey in activism. Sometimes this was able to provide comic relief, such as when Ria invokes a kung-fu sequence to present a break-in of a G8 Summit. But, the best parts were when each performer stepped out of character and passionately spoke about something they had achieved. Hannah showed a series of cats and explained that she had fostered them because pets are often a reason victims of domestic abuse do not leave their homes. It makes you aware of all the seemingly little things that are not associated with such issues and how they could be easily changed, a point the whole play keeps trying to put across.
I don’t think any of the actors anticipated people challenging their views or pre-empting things
Although audience interaction made the show more exciting due to its unpredictability, I don’t think any of the actors anticipated people challenging their views or pre-empting things. Though I felt sympathy for them, the political and sometimes controversial nature of the topics, such as prostitution, clearly offended some audience members who heckled a number of times.
As they said, it is better to try than do nothing
A stand out point was Kristy asking for volunteers to take food that one member had ‘Skipped’ (taken out of supermarket bins) the night before. People were quick to put their hands up to claim different items and knowing each night would be different added yet more immediacy to the piece. It may be easy to dismiss the trio as naive but they repeatedly made the point they understood how overwhelming each issue was and how it could be perceived badly that ‘privileged’ woman were calling on others to change. As they said, it is better to try than do nothing.
The same applies to the piece as a whole, they have attempted to produce a play which inspires audience members to get involved in an issue they believe in and, although this sometimes does not come across in the way they may have envisaged, it is commendable and I certainly would like to see more plays of a similar nature.
Yasemin Craggs Mersinoglu
Image: The Gramophones