Thursday, April 17, 2014

london riots

‘The Riots’ by Gillian Slovo is definitely a well put together piece of political theatre that both raises awareness as well as cause discussion regarding this years rioting across London and England.

With real life accounts of the rioting, the actors did a fabulous job at impersonating familiar politicians, community leaders, police inspectors and members of the public all of which were in some way associated with the rioting. And with the use of the back projectors we were informed of who they were as they arrived on stage.

I particularly liked Dona Croll’s portrayal of both Diane Abbott (MP) and Camila Batmanghelidjh (founder of Kids Company) and Sarah Balls portrayal of Sadie King and Karyn McCluskey.

The characters felt very real and roar but this was at some points a disadvantage as it resulted in slow paced, long scenes. Most of the time characters were addressing the audience and hardly interacted with each other. Most had a similar view point about under privileged youth, the system being a bad example – with MP expenses and the bankers, and ultimately, the rioting was a result of the recession. All of which I agree with, and because I agreed with the majority felt the piece was ‘preaching to the converted’.

I felt that this was more of a ‘documentary on stage’ rather than a play. And maybe this Question Time feel was done on purpose, as it was followed by an audience participation discussion on the riots.

The set was great. With broken glass, trainer boxes as docks in court and at one point a real fire on stage which definitely caught the attention of the audience. The three projectors situated so all could see, were used to map the locations of the riots, communicate twitter messages surrounding the event and symbolise materialism with a single trainer projected at one point.

I really wanted some drama, some conflict as that is exactly what the riots caused to the community. After seeing the impersonation of Owen Jones (author of Chavs: The demonization of the working class) arrive on stage I wanted David Starkey to arrive on stage with him and them to have a round two of their heated discussion on Newsnight (a round 2, not the exact things that were said) although this would have definitely caused some controversy.

As three describing words were used by each character to describe the riots that happened around England, my three words to describe ‘The Riots’ at the tricycle are once again ‘Documentary on Stage’.

The Riots is playing at Tricycle Theatre until 10th December. To book tickets please visit:

Words by Sharla Smith


A lively debate has erupted over a petition to remove the right to claim benefits from those who have participated in the terrifying lawlessness of the past few days.

Sparked by the fatal shooting of Mark Duggan in Tottenham by police on Thursday, what began as a protest over the viewed mishandling of the case, quickly descended into what seems like a free for all across the UK, with youths causing chaos and stretching police resources to the absolute limit. The petition ‘Convicted London rioters should loose all benefits’, ignited online by Stephan Mains, has been gaining support rapidly and currently stands at 69,000 supporters. The government has vowed to review the appeal if it is to reach 100,000 signatures, but will such drastic measures across the board do more harm than good? Not only does it suggest that the youths committing the looting and vandalism are from deprived backgrounds solely, but it will do nothing to quell the mounting class tensions and the fallout out may prove to bring about far worse consequences than has been seen already.

Extremist political groups are already using the riots as a platform to assert their own agendas, so possibly pushing our young people into further unemployment, lack of education and financial hardship, will do nothing but evoke more anger thus spurring these groups on.

There are various angles from which to assess the misery that has struck hundreds over the weekend, what do you think is the best course of action to improve the devasting situation that London, Birmingham and other cities have found themselves in?

Please post your comments below.

Words by Catherine Ababio




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