Posted by: Carole Woddis on Nov 26, 2011 – 12.40pm
by Gillian Slovo.
Tricycle Theatre 269 Kilburn High Road NW6 7JR To 10 December 2011.
all performances sold out.
Runs 2hr 10min One interval.
TICKETS 020 7328 1000.
Review: Carole Woddis 22 November.
Dark view of London’s latest burning.
The riots that spread through England in the first week of August this year were extraordinary in their suddenness, if instructive in exposing festering wounds still to be healed. Yet, unlike the 1980s Poll Tax riots, or public disorders in earlier centuries, it would be hard to pinpoint the political motive behind them.
The ostensible trigger was the killing of Tottenham resident, Mark Duggan. Author and playwright Gillian Slovo (Guantanamo – Honour Bound to Defend Freedom; Women, Power and Politics, both previous Tricycle productions) has made an admirable attempt to analysing these events through verbatim testimonies. Like Alecky Blythe’s Come Out, Eli after the Hackney siege, the turnaround speed is astonishing.
Hundreds of hours of transcripts must have been sieved-through by Slovo, with researcher Cressida Brown, to come up with this two hour account.
Staged by Nick Kent, it is not quite tribunal theatre, nor quite a play. Backed by video clips of maps and fires on the night, the action is all in the testimony spoken straight to the audience from witnesses and commentators across the social and political divide, including rioters, police, social and community workers to politicians.
Much of the material is by now familiar and Slovo’s angle is, to my mind, unnecessarily pessimistic. True, as these interviews indicate, the roots of the riots present a deeply worrying and troubling social division, born of inequality and confirm the widening gap between the haves and have-nots.
Asked to describe the rots in three words, a range of people present their analysis, the last speaker, a Muslim whose home was burnt down in Tottenham, summing it up quietly with “just – angry – people”. But speaking to people in my part of the world, Peckham and Clapham, in south east London, the aftermath of the riots also brought an outpouring of heartening community spirit .
Slovo’s evidence inevitably leaves the police looking incompetent whilst also pushing the idea of the riots as racially motivated – an argument later discarded. Slovo’s version suffers from insufficient acknowledgement of the positive grass-roots activism engendered afterwards, but nonetheless presents a fascinating, important tool for future debate.
Man 1/Sergeant Paul Evans: Grant Burgin.
Man 2/Jacob Sakil: Okezie Morro.
Stafford Scott: Steve Toussaint.
Martin Sylvester Brown: Kingsley Ben-Adir.
Chief Inspector Graham Dean/Judge Robert Atherton/Iain Duncan Smith MP: Tim Woodward.
Rev Nims Obunge/Superintendent Leroy Logan: Cyril Nri.
Inspector Winter/Harry Fletcher: Christopher Fox.
Mohamed Hammoudan/John Azah: Selva Rasalingam.
Man 3/Owen Jones/David Swarbrick: Tom Padley.
Dr Barbara Cleaver/Sadie King/Karyn McCluskey: Sarah Ball.
Michael Gove MP/Simon Hughes MP/Sir Hugh Orde: Rupert Holliday Evans.
Diane Abbott MP/Camila Batmanghelidjh: Dona Croll.
Greg Powell/Judge Andrew Gilbart/John McDonnell MP: Alan Parnaby.
Chelsea Ives: Clementine Marlowe-Hunt.
Director: Nicholas Kent.
Designer: Polly Sullivan.
Lighting: Jack Knowles.
Audio-visual: Jasmine Robinson.
Voice coach: Majella Hurley.
Researcher: Cressida Brown.
Literary consultant: Jack Bradley.
Assistant director: Ben Bennett.
Associate lighting: Charlie Hayday.
Sound: Sarah Weltman.
British premiere of The Riots at the Tricycle Theatre London 17 November 2011.