Five plays for the day
Theatre Uncut 2014 – Soho Theatre
Theatre Uncut will be in Brighton, Bristol, Canterbury and Liverpool in December 2014. For more details and to book tickets check outTheatre Uncut’s website
The Theatre Uncut project is now four years old. That is four years of coalition cuts, four years of the retrenchment of public services and four years where the quiet desperation of those without a voice has remained largely unheard. In that time Theatre Uncut has expanded so that it has now been performed in 17 countries across 4 continents. It has also started its first national tour and this year, through online polling and through a workshop process, writers chose to focus on the topic; ‘Knowledge is power, knowledge is change’.
One of the most interesting aspects of the process is finding out how five different writers decided to interpret the statement and how they decided to engage with the overtly political process of writing under these conditions.
Perhaps most surprisingly, and most refreshingly, is that a number of the plays focus on the personal more than the political. There was a balance that helped stop the gnawing sense that the whole programme was little more of an anguished wail of the liberal left against a coalition government that (like it or not) had every right to govern and who had been tasked with reducing a sky-rocketing debit burden following the global economic meltdown.
The variety on display meant it avoided the sense of lecture and the evening was leavened by a remarkable versatility in the well-judged humour throughout. It starts off in a blackly comic tone with ‘The Finger Of God’, which could easily have slid out of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror-inflected fevered imagination. It takes a classically dystopian near-future world where the lottery is seeking to ramp up interest in its games due to falling public demand. On one hand we get a rather obvious satire of the powerful slowly ramping up the consequences of playing but on the other we get a more nuanced look at those who continue to play the game even when it is so clearly rigged.