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A CurtainUp London Review
One (Claire Rushbrook) is dressed in uniform and is being solicitous to the visitor Three (Marie Jean-Baptiste). One is making sure she is comfortable, offering her a drink, making small talk, asking whether she wanted anyone with her. Three is defensive, edgy and we the audience are asking ourselves why she is here? What is the issue that has caused this meeting? Three says, "The whole family know why I'm here," and I am struck that we, the audience, do not.
With the Jimmy Savile play fresh in my mind, I wonder whether she is a victim of abuse. Whether this is a school she once attended? Or where her children have been abused? One and Two (Shane Zaza) have a forced air of cheerfulness but then Three opens up about the effect of something that has had a traumatic effect on her two children.
Her children, ten and twelve, are troubled. The boy has been moved from several schools and she explains how unsettled he is with a rhythmic repetition of phrases which have a powerful impact, making the point again and again but spoken with a calmness. Every so often a strip light fizzes as if it about to blow at tense points in the script.
I am not sure if I should tell you why Three is here, why she has been summoned. But the play is about a future when prisons are so overcrowded alternative punishments are being examined and the victim gets a say in what should happen.
The performances are stellar. Marie Jean-Baptiste is mesmerizing as the woman victim of a terrible crime. No amount of empathy can strike anything except an empty note as she reminds One that she cannot know how she feels. Into this very human situation is injected the protocol, the procedures, the training that has to be followed. Claire Rushbrook too delivers her civil service speak language impeccably.
debbie tucker green writes like a poet creating word pictures that we can feel. She has a remarkable talent and her words combined with fine acting will linger in your psyche.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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