facebook play-alt chevron-thin-right chevron-thin-left cancel location info chevron-thin-down star-full help-with-circle calendar images mail whatsapp directions_car directions_bike train directions_walk directions_bus close spinner11
Are you missing theatre as much as we are? Support us now with Theatre Tokens and see your favourite shows when they reopen.

Contains Violence

First Published 17 April 2008, Last Updated 22 April 2008

In an office block above Hammersmith a man sits at his desk trying to transcribe a letter. Through a window just below a woman can be seen sticking balloons to the wall. They are both being watched… by a binocular-wielding audience sitting on the balcony of the Lyric Hammersmith. For this is Contains Violence, the Lyric Hammersmith’s new voyeuristic thriller. Matthew Amer braved a chilly spring evening to attend the press night.

The Lyric Hammersmith under Artistic Director David Farr is not afraid to try something new, and when it comes to innovative, site specific theatre, the Shunt team, which has created Contains Violence, isat the forefront of the game.

This is not a comfortable evening’s entertainment, and not just because the audience is sat on a collection of seats that seem to have been collected from wherever the Lyric Hammersmith staff could find them and placed on a makeshift scaffolding rig set on the Lyric’s balcony.

Being issued with binoculars to observe life in the offices opposite the theatre only increases the slightly dirty voyeuristic feeling, peering into the lives of those who could just be normal people. The Lyric also has blankets and gloves to hand out, but a large mac could have completed the look.

Aside from the oversized penguins being carried around, these could be average, everyday office workers. The man and the woman both appear stressed and aggravated, while their third companion, Kim, is a worker out of place in his office, desperately trying to be accepted and needed. As the audience is told at the very beginning, by the narrator who leads us through the action, that the woman will witness a murder, there is more to this stressful scene than meets the eye.

While the uniqueness of the situation keeps audiences interested through the meandering first half of the production, in which conversations are universally one sided, the second half sees the action come alive and some of the characters move in the opposite direction. The sounds, transmitted to each audience member through earphones, add in texture of performance what distance diminishes in visual effect. It is amazing how disturbing a well placed squelch can be.

The mere fact that a group of earphone-wearing, binocular-toting voyeurs has gathered to watch the explicit goings on in an office building is comment enough on the nature of ‘reality entertainment’ and the lack of privacy in today’s world. When the narrator pops up – as he has a tendency to do – atop another building calling out everything else he can see happening in Hammersmith, the point is hammered home.

Yet when passers-by start watching the audience watching an office building, the truly voyeuristic nature of society is laid bare.

Contains Violence plays at the Lyric Hammersmith until 10 May.



Sign up

Related articles

If you click through to seat selection (where you'll see either best available or a seating plan), you will be seeing the most up-to-date prices. If this differs from what we've written on the calendar, please bear with us, as those prices will update soon.

We now sell our famous TKTS Booth discounts online here at Official London Theatre.

We are now cancelling all performances up until and including 31 May 2020 to help us process existing bookings whilst we wait for further clarity from the government in terms of when we will be able to reopen.

We are so sorry that in these testing and difficult times you are not able to enjoy the show you have booked for and hope the following helps clarify next steps in respect of your tickets .

There is nothing that you need to do if your performance has been cancelled, but we do ask for your patience.

If you have booked directly with the theatre or show website for an affected performance, please be assured that they will contact you directly to arrange an exchange for a later date, a credit note/voucher or a refund. If you have booked via a ticket agent they will also be in contact with you directly.

We are processing in strict date order of performance, so you are likely to be contacted after the date you were due to go to the theatre. However, we want to reassure you that you will be contacted, and your order will be processed, but please do bear with us.

We’d like to thank everyone who has been patient and kind in dealing with their ticket providers so far and we are sorry that we cannot process your order as quickly as we would like.

Please do not contact your credit card company as that will slow the process down and put an additional burden on our box office and ticket agent teams.

In order for us to serve our audiences the best we can, please do not get in touch with your point of sale if you have booked for performances after 31 May. Please be reassured that if we have to cancel future performances you will be directly contacted by your theatre or ticket provider. Our producers continue to plan for all eventualities dependent on the individual needs of their shows and we will provide further updates on specific shows as and when they become available.

We look forward to welcoming you back into our theatres as soon as we are allowed to resume performances. In the meantime stay safe and healthy.

While theatres are currently closed, various venues and productions are making announcements for their individual shows, including cancellations and rescheduled performances. Please check with the individual shows for details.