by Sam H Freeman.
Southwark Playhouse (The Little) 77-85 Newington Causeway SE1 6BD To 9 May 2015.
Mon-Sat 8pm Mat Sat 3.30pm.
Runs 1hr 40min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7407 0234.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 18 April.
Frenzied zigzag of a young woman’s life clearly and intensely tracked.
Four young women start and end entangled on a double-mattress. Wearing little, they dress-up, becoming individuals and telling the recent history of Scarlet. Yet Scarlet is, at different times, one, or each, or all of them. They’re usually apart, often spread around the auditorium (in the second successive production to use Southwark Playhouse’s Little space with imaginative fluidity), positioned to reflect relationships and isolation.
Nor is the style realistic, despite telling a realistic story. Scarlet’s rejection of an awkward male student (a stiffly pompous portrayal by one of the quartet) leads to the posting of her drunken sexual confessions, via a few pushes of social media buttons, ruining much of her life. Even after the video’s off social media, it stays on people’s phones.
If her life’s split apart, so is her character as it shifts between the actors, sometimes in longer sections, sometimes in the agitation of split sentences. Actors momentarily becomes friends advising, thoughts in Scarlet’s head, her recall of others’ words, or ideas of what they might, or ‘must’, be thinking.
Her personality, along with her whole world, falls apart as playwright Sam H Freeman (an aptly androgynous moniker) builds a furious pace, matched by Joe Hufton’s nifty, ever-mobile production. Once the action starts-up it soon reaches full pelt, pausing only for some time after the interval when a different actor takes over the story, and the focus seems to shift.
Freeman’s artful plot construction cunningly leads, and at times misleads, audiences, while detailing moment-by-moment how the brain handles difficult situations or races speculatively. It makes an exhilarating ride, and it could give rise to various admonitory messages: the influence of alcohol on behaviour, the danger of taking risks with people who may turn-out stranger than you think, the loss of control over what’s posted on social media. It might even make a case for student loans, seeing how much time and money there is to spend drinking in some classy-seeming joints.
Scarlet’s well named, takings risks and finding how red in tooth and claw human nature can be, an experience this cast point-up in every detail.
Cast: Lucy Kilpatrick, Jade Ogugua, Heida Reed, Asha Reid.
Director: Joe Hufton.
Designer/Costume: Lydia Denno.
Lighting: Matt Leventhall.
Composers: Ed Burgon, Benji Huntrods.
Movement/Associate director: Chi-San Howard.
Fight director: Brice Stratford.
Assistant lighting: Josh Gunn.