REVIEW: Brute 4* -Soho Theatre

The set was beautifully designed. Every part of it telegraphed that the action concerned school and the confused powerlessness that builds until you leave.  A Wooden fold top desk, which depending on where and when you went to school might be an anachronism, but it means school, it’s almost a totem for school.  Institutional chairs, if redolence is memory triggered by smell then those chairs evoke memories from the uncomfortable arse up. Postolence maybe. But the really beautiful touch is the white shirt which has been drawn on.  I don’t know how far that tradition spreads but getting people to sign your shirt on your last day is a better and more significant marker than ‘graduation’ ceremonies or dances. It created a personal connection before the play even began.

 

But the really impressive part of the performance were the transitions. My greatest reservation about one handers is that if it is a monologue then it is difficult to maintain and if the actor takes on other voices and characters it can be the worst kind of GCSE – ‘now I’m a gruff old postman see I’m limping, see? – shit, which is un-watchable. But Izzy Tennyson did a difficult thing beautifully. To give you some notion before you go to the play, and I do urge you to go, the play transitioned between performing a monologue in her character’s voice, her character doing the voices of other characters, Tennyson acting as other characters, Tennyson allowing her own hindsight laden voice to come out through her character, actually speaking as herself and interacting with voice-overs in character. And this was done without seeing the strings, I would have applauded for that alone.

Deft lighting and sound cues made the grosser scene transitions smooth as did the unselfconscious use of slight costume changes.

The subject matter is rough and real. It is not original, how could it be? The school interactions and dynamics are all familiar, because we all went through, from some angle, similar things ourselves, whether we were the girls described or we hated them, or were the ones hated by them, or we just saw them and wondered what their lives were like.

The play is moving and technically impressive, I’m looking forward to the team’s future work.

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The final show is on tonight (Saturday 19th of March) at 7pm. If you can still get tickets you should, if you get a chance to see the show in the future you should.

 

Writer/Polly: Izzy Tennyson

Director: Hannah Hauer-King

Dramaturg: Jules Haworth

http://sohotheatre.com/whats-on/brute/

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About Playhouse Pickings

Theatre blog run by Rhiannon Lawson; a civil servant, extreme tea drinker and theatre reviewer.
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