by David Greig.
Young Vic (The Maria) 66 The Cut SE1 8LZ To 2 August 2014.
Mon–Sat 7.45pm Mat Sat 2.45pm.
Audio-described 2 Aug 2.45pm.
Captioned 31 July.
Runs 1hr 30min No interval.
TICKETS: 0207 992 2922.
Review: William Russell 11 July.
Survival against the odds.
Back after a sell-out run in 2013, David Greig’s play is about surviving atrocities and is undeniably moving, powerful and looks at just what makes humans different from other species.
It is also a bit like enduring raging toothache as the central protagonist, a lesbian priest, is the kind of woman one would run miles to avoid having anything to do with. This does not reflect on the performances – Derbhle Crotty as Claire is splendid – but on the character Greig has created.
She is conducting choir practice and is haunted by the image of a boy who committed the atrocity of which she was one of the victims, although a survivor. She wants to know why he did what he did. The questions raised are important, and there are perhaps no answers to them.
As the boy Clifford Samuel conjures up a charming, confused and dangerous being with great skill, while he and Crotty interact to great effect. Meanwhile the choir rehearse their songs – The Bloomsburys, a 25 strong choir, who took part when the piece was broadcast earlier this month by the BBC, were in residence on the night I saw it – and occasionally get involved in events. Other community choirs will perform during the rest of the run.
The piece has been lauded by many as a mighty play, and it could have been just the heat – the Maria auditorium was the next best thing to a sauna bath – but the arguments seemed circular, the questions raised exactly what one would expect to be raised, and it was not provocative or dangerous in its approach to atrocious events.
In spite of the extremely good performances, it could not end soon enough for me. But I could be wrong. Sometimes, however, the emperor really doesn’t have any clothes.
The Boy: Clifford Samuel.
Claire: Derbhle Crotty.
Pianist: Magnus Gilljam.
The Choir: The Bloomsburys*.
Director: Ramin Gray.
Designer: Chloe Lamford.
Lighting: Charles Balfour.
Sound: Alex Caplen.
Music: John Browne.
Associate director: Polina Kalinina.
*Other choirs taking part are: Camberwell Community Choir, Barnes Community Choir, Young Vic Open Voices Choir, Oasis Waterloo Community Choir, Borough Market Choir, Bermondsey Voices, Singing Works, Karuso!, Landmark Singers, Overseas Development Institute Choir, Singingworks, Chaps Choir, Ermine Voices & Sanctuary Voices, Choir with No Name (North London), Choir with No Name (South London), London Transport Choir, Some Voices.