What’s it all about?
Alice Birch’s play examines the external forces that press upon modern-day women, constantly shaping and moulding them. Raging against these forces, it advocates several forms of radical revolution.
Deliberately exploring the power of language to wound and employing some serious shock tactics, the play demands our attention from the outset, tightening its hold until the last breath.
Part of the Making Mischief festival, ‘a festival of bold and thought-provoking new plays’, Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again, has been developed at The Other Place in Stratford, was first shown in 2014, and has now transferred to Shoreditch Town Hall after a run at this year’s Edinburgh Festival.
**The production contains strong language and scenes of a sexual nature and this review reflects that.
We meet women at all stages of their lives; a woman who demands an equal language of love making, devouring her lover with her words and seeing him wilt before her eyes; a woman who rejects her boyfriend’s marriage proposal using the metaphor of a suicide bomber; a grandmother/daughter/granddaughter desperately trying to escape their toxic past; three women pondering the need for a revolution that will overthrow men and lead to an all-female society.
Performed by one man and three women, in a series of scenes that start off naturalistic and segue into something much more stylised, absurdist at points, the play leads you, almost before you know it, from the familiar (if slightly shocking to our English sensibilities) to something far more dystopian.
Beautifully designed by Madeleine Girling, the graphics regularly suggest forms of revolution that we could adopt interwoven with some high comedy touches. The luminous orange shoe covers for two particularly officious supermarket employees were particularly enjoyable.
The play is shocking and funny, thought-provoking and definitely, as explicitly stipulated by the writer, not well behaved.
Who’s in it?
Four expert performers: Robert Boulter, Emmanuella Cole, Emma Fielding, and Beth Park. Clearly in the rhythm from an Edinburgh run they bounce off each other with great skill and the play trips along at pace.
Emma Fielding is particularly mesmerising in one monologue as a woman who has taken her clothes off in public, to try, as she patiently explains, to regain some kind of control.
What should I look out for?
It’s tough to pick out one thing in a 70 minute show that catapults you to its conclusion, but the opening scene is an absolute powerhouse. Look out for that moment when you realise that familiar scenarios have morphed into something new altogether. Alice Birchs’ writing really comes into its own here.
In a nutshell?
Ferocious, funny and definitely not well behaved.
What are people saying on Twitter?
— Martha Geelan (@marthageelan) August 31, 2016
Will I like it?
If you like your new writing short, sharp and on the nail, then absolutely.
It’s a fantastic offering from the Royal Shakespeare Company, with four more traditional openings this September, it’s brilliant to have such a diverse range of work from the RSC in London.
This is a commanding 70 minutes that questions language, form and how women’s bodies are invariably public property. It asks why we are not angrier about it and encourages us to get up and act. ‘The thought is not enough’ says one of the characters as the play draws to a close. But then, Birch asks, what action is the right action?
Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again, definitely asks more questions than it answers. And that is exactly how it should be, right?
Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again runs at Shoreditch Town Hall until 17th September and you can find out more information here.