‘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: http://www.tricycle.co.uk/
Words by Sharla Smith