PODCAST REVIEW: Fully Amplified – Futures Theatre

Reviewer: Maryam Philpott

What voices can you hear? Even when you really listen, it’s probably the same ones that dominate… until now. Future Theatres has commissioned seven different conversations from women and non-binary people built around the work of 11 writers. These candid discussions and prose pieces are Fully Amplified so you shouldn’t have any trouble hearing them.

The first three podcasts, each running for around 30-minutes, sets the tone for more than three hours of individual and collective experiences, involving 30 participants openly sharing their encounters of racism, family, community, ritual and inheritance. Storytelling knits each group together as they offer insights, jokes and plenty of camaraderie as the complexities of identity shape each conversation.

Tanya Loretta Dee’s Aunty,directed by Jade Lewis, centres on the Kent coastal resort of Margate. Here a group consider how their sense of home and place has shifted over time, initially eager to escape the confines of the town for the opportunities of London, but later drawn back by a strong connection to the sea and a more tangible engagement with the seasons. It is a friendly but illuminating understanding of systemic racism and its multifaceted impacts on identity.

Dee’s words are interspersed throughout, as the character of Aunty, performed by Sharon D. Clarke, reads a letter to a younger relative. A warm often wistful quality is balanced by subtle references to arriving on the Windrush, working as nurses and bus drivers and the difficulties of starting life in the UK. But Dee’s ultimately optimistic piece is about seeking contentment in caring for others and, as the group in Margate demonstrate, finding a place to call home.

Ava Wong Davies’s Hunger is a more disturbing piece which looks at everyday racism targeted at Asian communities when her protagonist experiences an internal erosion as this thriller-like monologue unfolds. Directed by Mingyu Lin and performed by Chloe Ewart, Wong Davies contrasts the speaker’s connection to nature with the grey workplace where she is encouraged to be compliant and grateful, building to fear and anguish as her thoughts consume her.

This second podcast entitled Waiting for an Excuse to Turn in which Wong Davies’ piece is included, looks at the variable face of anti-Asian racism and the increased anxiety caused by the pressure of social media and political shifts that have facilitated open prejudice. The discussion group express discomfort at calling themselves British in another honest examination of attempts to confine and control.

When Two Armenians Meet… couldn’t be more different in tone and while Abi Zakarian’s story focuses on inherited trauma, her piece Old Dough performed by Jessie Bedrossian takes a celebratory, dreamlike tone in which the central character dreams of making lavash. She is drawn by the sounds of cooking to a family kitchen where happy memories of shared meals, culture and tradition create identity.

Directed by Carline Bryant, the notably inter-generational conversation in this third podcast thinks quite deeply about loss and diaspora, having to leave loved ones behind and the ensuing suffering of Armenian communities. But, there is a sense of empowerment in younger generations drawing strength from their ancestors and embracing the hope that earlier suffering offers.

With four further episodes focusing on queer identity, inter-racial relationships, domestic abuse and gender inequality, the diversity of collective experience covered in Fully Amplified is almost overwhelming, and while individual communities have their distinct voices, as a community these podcasts reveal how much we really don’t hear. So, start listening.

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The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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