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Little Revolution

Published 4 September 2014

What’s it all about?

Leading verbatim playwright Alecky Blythe took her dictaphone to the streets of Hackney during 2011’s summer riots and interviewed everyone from looting teenagers to terrified bystanders.

Following in the traditions set by her hugely successful former hits including The Girlfriend Experience, the resulting interviews are relayed by actors listening to the conversations live through headphones.

It sounds bizarre, but with every mannerism, tick, hesitation, repetition and linguistic filler replicated by the cast, Little Revolution is an insightful, fascinating experience that once again captures humanity in all its awkward, wonderful, frustrated, scared, ignorant and observant glory.

Who’s in it?

Director Joe Hill-Gibbins and Blythe have brought together a mix of professional actors and a ‘Community Chorus’ of 31 volunteers aged 16 to 74-years-old to portray the people Blythe met from the much-loved shopkeeper Siva Kandiah who became famous after his convenience store was forced to close after looting to furious mothers from Pembury Estate whose teenager sons have allegedly been harassed by the police.

Amongst the more well-known faces are Imogen Stubbs, one half of a middle-class hippy couple who unexpectedly find purpose amongst the unrest, impressionist Ronni Ancona, who predictably nails the transition from frustrated, eloquent parent to bubble-gum chewing bystander, and Lucian Msamati, who is captivating in the role of a quietly wise hairdresser, observing from a distance.

What should I look out for?

Blythe, who stars as herself in Hill-Gibbins’ stripped-back production. This chance to see the writer recreate her own interviews gives audiences the extra fascination of watching exactly how she goes about her unique style of documentation, with all the nervous laughter and moments of ballsy bravery you’d expect.

Look out for your opinions changing scene to scene. As the divided community both find common ground and are ripped apart, it begins to seem that only the priviledged can really catch Blitz Spirt, but Blythe presents herself as a neutral bystander, allowing you, the audience, to form your own opinions that are perfect for an after show debate or two in the bar.

In a nutshell?

Alecky Blythe’s verbatim genius strikes again in the fascinating Little Revolution; an intimate insight into a piece of history so recent conclusions are still yet to be written.    

What’s being said on Twitter?

@markbrown14 The Hackney riots play #LittleRevolution is brilliantly done, hilarious, speaking as a former Hackney riots central resident

@ShamiraTurner Alecky Blythe’s #LittleRevolution @AlmeidaTheatre is riveting, with a brilliant ensemble.

Will I like it?

Just by its very unique nature, Little Revolution will not be to everyone’s tastes, but for most theatre fans it is a must-see. Blythe’s genius style is riveting and its bustling mix of ideas, opinions and experiences will have you thinking for days.

Little Revolution is playing at the Almeida Theatre until 4 October. You can book tickets through the theatre’s website.

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