Writer: Eve Ensler
Director: Mark Rosenblatt
Venue: Poetry Tent
Reviewer: Glen Pearce
In the brightly lit surroundings of Latitude’s poetry tent, compare Luke Wright issues a disclaimer. Not only is the next piece dark in tone, it has previously been performed in near darkness. Latitude festival goers are nothing if not inventive, though, and the bright sunlight and sounds from the surrounding music stages don’t detract from a powerful and at times shocking monologue.
The monologue is of course not a strange form to author Eve Ensler. Best known for her iconic The Vagina Monolgues, Ensler now turns her attention to the murky world of human trafficking, prostitution and asylum.
It may sound unlikely fare for a festival but in West Yorkshire Playhouse’s production it’s utterly gripping.
Performer Rebecca Grant invites us to close our eyes and imagine a world where we’re not sure where we are. It’s a complex and multilayered tale as the full, distressing picture of the hardships our protagonist faces. Eisner doesn’t pull any punches and its a tale that is harrowing to listen to. Graphic descriptions of child prostitution are unflinching in their detail but the detail is an integral part of building the picture of this strong young woman, desperately trying to make sense of a world beyond her tender years.
Grant’s performance is mesmerising, revelling in Esner’s evocative wordplay and captivating the audience with every inflection.
As the twists of the story slowly unravel we finally click the importance of the darkness, with the young woman trapped inside a box. It’s both an emotional and physical condition as the young woman faces an uncertain future heading for asylum in an unknown land. With local residents to Latitude all too familiar with the plight of refugees discovered in shipping containers, it’s a world that hits home hard.
Like many asylum seekers, the girls fate remains uncertain at the plays conclusion. What is clear, however, is this piece of powerful writing does much to explain some of the myriad reasons people risk the unknown in the hope of a new, better life.
Avocado may seem initially an odd choice for a feel good festival environment, but the ratio us attention of the crowd shows that there’s a place for dark drama alongside the frippery. Esner’s script, Grant’s performance and Mark Rosenblatt’s pitch perfect direction make this an early festival highlight.