You Heard Me – Battersea Arts Centre, London

Reviewer: Christine Stanton

Writer: Luca Rutherford

Director: Maria Crocker

Luca Rutherford’s one-woman show based on a true story urges audiences to listen, be strong, make a stand, take up space and never back down.

One Tuesday afternoon when Luca Rutherford was out running, she was attacked and assaulted, narrowly managing to escape because of her loud scream that attracted the attention of a passer-by. She assures the audience that she’s okay – but she’s angry, full of rage against the man who did this to her, furious at the regularity that events like this happen on a day-to-day basis to people all over the world. The story itself is briefly told via a pre-recorded voiceover while Rutherford sits on the stage actively listening along with the audience. It’s a harrowing story, bravely told against the backdrop of the dark room.

As the recollection finishes, Rutherford slowly gets up, rearranging a collection of seemingly ad-hoc items around the room that don’t appear to have anything to do with the story itself. Among them are a mirrored balloon, a giant pink blow-up cushion, a yellow dress and a set of stairs – all interacted with at various points in the show, but never with any real explanation which creates more confusion than satisfaction.

Rutherford continues the cycle of repeated physical sequences throughout the rest of the 50-minute show, recounting a handful of lines from the voiceover each time before she continues to perform another series of similar movements. The contemporary physicality of the show is visually powerful, a clear cathartic confrontation of an event that shaped her. But although it is initially engaging, it becomes slightly less impactful without an additional layer or level for the performance to move on to.

Creatively, from a design point of view, the show is mesmerising. The pitch-black background is lit with an intense lighting design from Bethany Gupwell, spotlights and flashing lights creating a beautifully haunting collection of silhouettes and shadows that would make glorious stills. Multi-coloured confetti is exploded onto the stage at varying points – artistically creating another layer of beauty and softness to an otherwise raw and hardened production. It’s a strange juxtaposition which works extremely well from a visual standpoint.

Facing an incident such as this head-on is tough to deal with. Rutherford’s emotion and fury fill the small stage quickly and ferociously as she practices what she preaches – she’s loud and unapologetic, as she does her best to therapeutically purge the uncomfortable memories in front of the audience in a bid to take back control.

Runs until 14 September 2023

The Reviews Hub Score

Cathartic Confrontation

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The Reviews Hub - London

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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