by Laura Stevens.
Old Red Lion Theatre 418 St John Street EC1V 4NJ To 3 December 2011.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 3pm
Runs 1hr 30min One interval.
TICKETS: 0844 412 4307.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 12 November.
Raising Silver comes up with gold.
Raising Silver Theatre’s production credits two choreographers, as many as there are actors, which might suggest a wartime tea-dance setting. Yet there’s just one dance, though it’s significant as a social coming-together.
There’s a major castingcoup too, in attracting Abigail Thaw to a pub-theatre, even in Islington. It sets-up high expectations for Michelle Tate. That she’s less detailed than Thaw might be as much to do with Jean and Catherine’s characters as with the performances. Tate certainly makes Jean’s character clear, in a rooftop drama where social status is explored.
Wartime, with everyone in it together, places on a night-time roof two women who would never otherwise be talking together. Watching for incendiary bombs is now women’s work, as is making the munitions in the factory beneath the industrial rooftop accurately and atmospherically created in detail by designer Jess Wiesner.
Ladylike Catherine, in bright red dress and inappropriately elegant shoes, has struggled up to the rooftop where working-class Jean stands in overalls and scarf-tied hair. She advises against sitting on the floor, but Catherine’s not going to tackle the stairs again to fetch a chair. And, confident in voice if her smile tries too hard to see her through an unfamiliar situation, Catherine is notably evasive when asked how many clothing coupons she uses.
But if the Black Market lies behind her red dress, it’s Jean who fears the law when her impulsive taking of silverware from a bomb-site is discovered. Catherine feels awkward about telling the police, but middle-class morality runs through her. By the time she learns she’s about to be nicked, Jean’s already declared she’ll return the stuff, which anyway is far less valuable than she thought.
But it’s the poor what gets the blame, and the woman who’d started standing confidently, advising against sitting on the roof, ends up lying there hoping sleep will postpone her worries.
All too neat? Possibly, but it’s written and played truthfully in Katie Lewis’s production, as the class divide plays within a war-effort that keeps Hitler at bay with water-buckets, stirrup-pumps and a spade for tripping incendiaries over the side.
Catherine: Abigail Thaw.
Jean: Michelle Tate.
Director: Katie Lewis.
Designer: Jess Wiesner.
Lighting: Richard Williamson.
Sound: Dan Jeffries.
Choreographers: Gemma Whelan, Bex Keable-Crouch.