DramaLondonReviewYouth Theatre

Austerity & Me – The Ovalhouse, London

Director: Mahri Reilly.

Reviewer: Hannah Powell.

Austerity: difficult economic conditions created by government measures to reduce public expenditure. An incredibly relevant topic that deserves a platform more so now exactly one year on to the date from Grenfell and in the process of Brexit than ever before. As stated by the company, ‘It’s the big word we’re told so little about’.

The show is an exploration of personal anecdotes from 18-24 years old living in South London today, young people who were too young to have personally felt the effects of life before and after the 2008 deficit. Through a mixture of spoken word, physical theatre, and dance the Ovalhouse Performance Company seek to share with us the voices behind the struggles published within the newspapers of today as they fight to survive in under austerity.

It feels at times as though the importance of the subject matter is pushed to the back in the face of fancy theatrical techniques, similar to those found in the annual Theatre in Education school performances you receive during education on subjects such as fire safety or sex-ed. It is a shame as the spoken word elements incorporated into the piece are so incredibly hard-hitting and moving yet seem to fall at the climax as they return to theatrics. It would seem that a topic such as this one does not need soundscapes, freezeframes, and long transitions, but would be most effective if simply laid bare for their audience to witness.

The performance would benefit from a slower pace, the topic requires the chance to settle within the minds of the audience before progression. The rushing of lines and dizzying change of scene do not leave much time for the audience to come to their own realisations about the subject and form a connection with the stories being portrayed.

The reference to Grenfell on what is the first anniversary of the tragedy was presented in a poignant and very respectful manner. For such young people, the intelligence and understanding they show during this particular moment would make any parent proud to have them as their children. There is no theatrics, no choreographed movements, just a short-spoken word, a simple projection, and a show of solidarity in the face of austerity.

A performance such as this one is needed more than ever to showcase the trials and tribulations working class people face daily from the effects of austerity and government cuts. It is just a shame that the seriousness of the matter is partially hidden behind comical theatrics.

Runs until 15th June 2018 | Image: Contributed 

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