by Chris Goode.
West Oxford Community Centre Botley Road OX2 0BT To 8 June 2014.
Runs 1hr 20min No interval.
Revived at Battersea Arts Centre 20 April-9 May 2015.
TICKETS: 020 7223 2223.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 7 June 2014.
Actors give voice to activists’ actions.
Latest in Oxford Playhouse’s ‘Playhouse Plays Out’ events, this shows the Playhouse anything but played-out. Right by the allotment where last year’s Allotment was performed, Stand again sees an accomplished theatre company presenting work relating to the place and people where the performance happens.
Last year’s show was acted against a background of local allotment-holders tending their produce. Now Chris Goode and Company have created a show for Oxford, seeking stories from people who have taken a stand on a matter of principle. Six stories are told in calm yet characterful voices which give a sense of their original tellers.
Three men, three women (one nipping-off to deal with the cooking midway, a neat realistic touch) have their stories told by actors sitting in a row, stands in front of them bearing copies of a script which they may use but hardly rely on.
Two things emerge. One is the anger provoking protests which often arise unexpectedly for the people involved. It may come after a disrupted childhood, from a life lived calmly till injustice appeared, or from a wider sense of discontent finding a focus. Christian Roe’s undergraduate finds the student union amazed that someone responds to their call for activism, giving a humour which continues in his ‘Out, Damn’d Logo’ account of Shakespeare performances preceded by pop-up protests against oil-company sponsorship.
The other is how the soul of protest lies in the group not an individual, a point framing the piece, made by Michael Fenton Stevens’ protestor against a boatyard being redeveloped for expensive housing. And Gwyneth Strong’s quiet mother says she’s speaking for the daughter adopted in the Ukraine, detailing the child’s voyage to love, and pride in the girl’s principled behaviour.
Life’s not been easy for Cathy Tyson’s character, whose negative anger becomes positive protest, while Lawrence Werber’s animal rights protestor, impressed someone’s taking an interest, shows it’s never too late to become involved.
And Kelda Holmes’ happy anti-fracker shows commitment becoming a bright weapon of happiness in a warm, unsentimental show where theatre skills open a window on a very particular part of modern society.
Cast: Michael Fenton Stevens, Kelda Holmes, Christian Roe, Gwyneth Strong, Cathy Tyson, Lawrence Werber.
Director/Sound: Chris Goode.
Designer: Naomi Dawson.
Lighting: Tim Boyd.
Illustrator: Tom Frankland.
Video: Alex Markham.
Associate designer: Cécile Trémolières.