Stratford Upon Avon
REVOLT. SHE SAID. REVOLT AGAIN. Alice Birch
RSC: The Other Place
Stratford Upon Avon
Runs: Approx 1h 15m, no interval
Other Place to 13 August, Tours to 17 September
Tkts: 0844 800 1110
Review: Alexander Ray Edser, 7 August 2016
Using words as powerful weapons
At a time when we’re all being encouraged to encompass theatre performance that uses video, digital techniques, immersive settings (and so on), it is refreshing to see REVOLT. Here is a playwright who is driven to write her play – clearly driven since her angry voice is one of the things that underpins this work. And the power of the work likes in its reliance on the power of words.
This is further emphasised in Erica Whyman’s direction; the production is essentially static and the set virtually non-existent (a handful of chairs). The full focus is on Alice Birch’s words – and what she wants to say.
Birch writes about women and the way they are used. They may be used by men sexually, or they may be used by women (or men) at work for their labour. Early in the play the women are unable to take control because nobody understands what they want; and the effect if often funny, though the humour leaves a bitter taste.
As the play develops (by theme rather than narrative) women endeavour to take control by trying willingly to take on board the control. Further in the refrain ‘I’m so tired’ is repeated. And by this stage we are engaged emotionally as well as intellectually.
Four strong performances wing the play’s message to us.
You can’t help feeling this is as bleak a landscape as Beckett every drew. But it does finish on a moment of hope . . . ‘We’ll dismantle the monetary system . . .’ ‘, ‘All jobs will be destroyed . . . ‘ But as the play concludes we see this is a forlorn hope, So it’s even bleaker, and in its direct, uncluttered and unfussed communication with us, extraordinarily powerful.
Director: Erica Whyman
Designer: Madeleine Girling
Lighting Designer: Claire Gerrens
Sound Design: Jonathan Ruddick
Voice and Text Work: Anna McSweeney
Assistant Director: Hannah Joss
Casting Director: Matthew Dewsbury