The newly formed Red Cart Theatre Company aims to specialise in theatre featuring strong stories for women. That’s all very well, but in this debut production, both women and men come off rather badly.
On the surface, the choice of Richard Cameron’s 1990 play makes sense. It’s a well-crafted, fluid script that follows the lives of three young women who live in the same town. Jodie is a troubled ten-year-old, Ruby is a young mother and Lynette is a newlywed. Their paths cross, imperceptivity at first, because of the actions of one man, Royce. He is a bully, an errant father and a wife beater and wrecks their lives in very different ways.
We hear each of their often distressing encounters with Royce through a series of monologues and eventually the women’s paths merge so that they all have an unexpected hand in Royce’s grizzly fate.
But Royce isn’t given a voice in the play and appears only in the women’s recollections. We’re not given an opportunity to understand why he’s such a mess and as a result, the denouement is undermined.
Jane Moriarty’s production doesn’t help. Ideally, this finale should be seen as a terrible but unavoidable moment the women have been cornered into. Instead it’s rushed and we feel as though what they’ve done is supposed to be a happy ending. But really you’re made to feel they haven’t made a strong decision to move forward with their lives, they’ve simply worked together to get away with something nasty.
It’s a pity; until the fudged ending, the production is wholly watchable and there are three strong performances from Laura Allen, Kelly McAuley and Bernice Pike.
But however convincing the women are in their struggle against this oppressive man, the show still leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
By Daisy Bowie-Sell
Average User Rating
4 / 5
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Strongly disagree with this review from Time Out. I thought the whole point of keeping Royce's voice out of the play and show his character and actions through the points of view of 3 very different women was a very interesting way of revealing who he was and engaging the audience. In this way the spectator is not a passive bystander having everything spelled out to them, but has to work to piece together their own view of Royce from the 3 accounts of his actions and their effects. I also found the ending powerful and very satisfying. It was also a surprise and maybe the writer of this review should not ruin the ending for people who would like to see the production. The 3 actors were very convincing, no room for error here in such an intimate space the audience can scrutinise their every blink.I was drawn in by all their performances and on e I'd got into the story, was hanging on their every word to find out what happened next. Thoroughly enjoyable show.
From the point of view of a totally unbiased father of one of the actors, this review seems a little harsh. It's hard to see exactly what Daisy Bowie-Sell doesn't like ... about the production. It seems more a critique of the piece itself. It's Richard Cameron, not jane Moriarty, who gives us the "fudged ending". It is he who keeps Royce from the stage ... yet through this skilful production we can see and feel him the whole time. It's a bit like marking Shakespeare down for killing off Romeo and Juliet. Thankfully Ms Bowie-Sell acknowledges the three strong performances ... which indeed they were. But just two stars? We demand a recount!