Iron

Theatre

Drama

Old Red Lion Theatre

Until Sat Oct 12 2013

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LiveReviews|2
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Jemma Churchill

This must not be missed. A fine revival of this important play. The evening whizzes along and you feel utterley battered but inspired at the end. The performances are seamless as is the superb direction from Matt Beresford.

stella willow

IRON By Stella Willow We, the audience, sit on two sides, as judge and jury, in the stifling heat and close proximity of the action cast on a barren grey set. Claustrophobia grows. This production of IRON, by Scottish playwright Rona Munro, is making its first London revival since 2003 at the Royal Court. The pace is snappy, sound effects herald new ‘moments’ as we face Fay and her daughter Josie in perpetual weekly prison visits, battling to discover the delicate threads of their unconditional love for one another. The play dispels a taut iron-like structure of tension throughout. Munro’s play is a strong feminist piece. Her words and phrases are colourfully imagined and linger with you longer than most. At times the writing feels a little dated to show the play at its best, but it is both sensitively and skilfully directed by Matt Beresford. Deemed a play of choice; or perhaps restricted or no choice at all, rights and freedom are taken away and mangled in the penal system resulting in unfair punishment. Crimes of passion are a complex matter. Fay educates her estranged daughter - that had she murdered her - her sentence would have been lighter than that of killing a man. Shauna Snow as Fay gives a stellar performance. She exudes a physical and emotional perceptivity of an institutionalised, broken and somewhat deranged masculinised woman locked up for life. It’s an immense, real and raw take of a human spirit fighting to unlock her daughter’s painful childhood memories. In helping Josie unravel her true spirit and strengths both women stand to gain ‘freedom’. Emma Deegan as Josie measures her performance beautifully. Beginning as a starchy and withdrawn young business woman, she gradually embraces a life without inhibitions and grows more self-aware to fight for her mother’s justice. Mother and daughter are seemingly poles apart. This proves horrifically touching when they are wrenched apart by prison guards enforcing strict visitation codes as both attempt to reach out to one another for comfort. There are the beginnings of a nice scene where Josie recounts to her mother her ‘night out’. A table is upturned to become a bar stool. Josie talks, back turned, mother willing her on, this is broken a little, as we turn to normality of facing one another again. At times the ongoing duologues feel monotonous. A stronger variation of lighting and sound effects may help to create bigger changes and dynamics within the piece. The guards are sympathetically played by Don Cotter and Emma Carter. In particular Emma’s role, rounder than Don’s, is written to shed more light on a lone woman’s struggle. Her ‘friendship’ with Fay is layered with her own needs and wants. We are reminded how delicate an undeniable bond between mother and daughter can be. 24th Sept-12th Oct, 418 St John Street, London EC1V 4NJ