by debbie tucker green
Royal Court (Jerwood Theatre Upstairs) Sloane Square SW1W 8AS To 18 July 2015.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm .
Audio-described 11 July 2.30pm
Captioned 15 July.
Runs: 1hr 10min No interval.
TICKETS 020 7565 5000.
Review: Carole Woddis 17 June.
Quite brilliant match of dramatic form to substance.
Debbie tucker green reaches parts other writers can’t. She cuts to the chase like a scythe, or a scalpel cutting through skin. It’s clean, swift and it hurts in the sense of a cut bringing you up short with reality and truth. And she has a piercing sense of injustice.
hang speaks to us directly of some criminal act so appalling its perpetrator is to be done to death. In a room quivering under strip-lighting – at some points even the lighting seems to lose its balance and collapse into a watery facsimile of itself – Marianne Jean-Baptiste takes on the role of the perpetrator’s victim.
She stands, the picture of stubborn dejection in a nondescript coat before Claire Rushbrook and Shane Zaza’s well meaning but hopeless prison officials. Their discomfort, conveyed by tucker green’s avalanche of redundant gabbled questions and reactions, is matched by Jean-Baptiste’s sullen reserve. It’s a crucible of anxieties; of officials attempting to make palatable an unspeakable situation; a victim whose anger blocks any attempt at a softening or personal interaction.
tucker green’s anonymous characters – there are no names – imbue hang with a wider metaphorical sense. Three’s visit specifically is about giving her decision as to how she wants the perpetrator to be put to death. But tucker green’s real focus is a racial injustice so big and so broad that Three’s individual fury stands for a whole people. And the indictment of an obfuscating, illogical, dehumanising justice system.
The personal was ever political; so it is here. Jean-Baptiste’s Three carries the weight and sorrow of a Doreen Lawrence as she describes the destruction of a marriage, a family, its life and its hope by a single unspecified act of violence.
There is no one who can create atmosphere in so few words as tucker green with her staccato yet poetically framed lines.
Tautly directed here by the playwright, Rushbrook and Zaza play their part in 70 minutes that puts not just a Kafkaesque criminal system on trial but racial discrimination from the institutionalised to the personal by way of tapping into a universal frustration with pettifogging officialdom.
Three: Marianne Jean-Baptiste.
One: Claire Rushbrook.
Two: Shane Zaza.
Director: debbie tucker green.
Designer: Jon Bausor.
Lighting: Tim Mitchell.
Sound: Christopher Shutt.
Composer: Luke Sutherland.
Movement: Polly Bennett.
Assistant director: Miranda Cromwell.
World premiere of hang Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Downstairs Sloane Square London 11 June 2015.