London: Billy The Girl: to Nov 24, 2013, then tours prisons
Billy The Girl: Katie Hims
21 Dean Street
London W1D 3NE
7.15 Tues-Sun; mats Sat 3pm
BSL interpreted perf: Nov 14;
Audio described perf: Nov 15;
Captioned perf: Nov 16.
Runs: 1hr 15 mins no interval.
TICKETS : 020 7478 0100
Review: by Carole Woddis of performance seen Nov 1, 2013
How far they’ve come; and how they’ve blossomed.
Thirty five years ago, two former detainees at her Majesty’s pleasure, spurred on by an enlightened prison governor, started to hold drama workshops and went on to create a theatre company, Clean Break.
How the company has blossomed since. No longer `just’ a theatre company – though given the standard of the work these days, that would be sufficient enough – they now provide much needed support and positive initiatives for women coming out of prison trying to readjust and change old patterns and lifestyles.
Time was when Clean Break’s plays were written by former inmates. These days, they’re more likely to be professional writers, directors and performers although the idea behind the projects remains: to highlight issues and give voice to those who might not otherwise be heard. Or should not be in prison anyway.
Billy the Girl shows just how far Clean Break have come. Written by award-winning TV and radio writer, Katie Hims, directed by Lucy Morrison (who brought us the outstanding Charged and Re-Charged series of prison-related plays) and with a hyper-realistic garden set (including a full scale caravan) by Joanna Scotcher, it boasts three gorgeously assured performances from the highly experienced Christine Entwisle, Danusia Samal and not least newcomer Naomie Ackie.
Hims almost makes it a kind of soap comedy. But she’s too sharp to fall into that trap, Instead in a subtle, funny 75 minutes, she shows how hard it is to change when going back to family situations where the reasons that might have sent the individual off the track still remain in place.
In Billy the Girl, the focus is on mother and her two daughters. And the men in her life. Entwisle plays Ingrid, a mother who appears to have contributed to Billy’s waywardness through mistrust, hostility and crucially influence from her husband and boy-friends – men unseen in the play but as recent high profile cases have sadly shown, all too present in family dynamics.
Billy the Girl, however, makes its points without resorting to proselytising. Instead, with the comic-tragic appearance of a large bear costume, it provides a poignancy few will forget.
Billy: Danusia Samal
Ingrid: Christine Entwisle
Amber: Naomi Ackie
Director: Lucy Morrison
Designer: Joanna Scotcher
Lighting Designer: Katharine Williams
Sound Designer: Becky Smith
Billy the Kid received its world premiere at the Soho Theatre, London on Oct 29, 2013
For more info: www.sohotheatre.com;
cleanbreak.org.uk / #CleanBrk / #billythegirl