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You can’t stop the boats: Sorry We Didn’t Die At Sea @ParkTheatre

Sorry We Didn’t Die At Sea by Italian playwright Emanuele Aldrovandi and translated by Marco Young, has made a topical return to London at the Park Theatre after playing earlier this summer at the Seven Dials Playhouse. In a week when leaders and leaders in waiting were talking about illegal immigration, it seemed like a topical choice . It also has one hell of an evocative title. The piece opens with Adriano Celantano’s Prisencolinensinainciusol , which sets the scene for what we are about to see. After all, a song about communication barriers seems perfect for a play about people trafficking and illegal immigration. One side doesn’t understand why they happen, and the other still comes regardless of the latest government announcement / slogan .  However, the twist here is that the crossing is undertaken the other way. People are fleeing Europe instead of escaping war or poverty in Africa or the Middle East. It’s set sometime in the not-too-distant future. There is a crisis causing p

Me too thirty years ago: Masterpieces @Finborough

Long before the #metoo movement called out sexual harassment (and worse), there was Masterpieces by Sarah Daniels. But instead of wearing pink hats or marching, one of the characters pushes a man under the tube. 

It’s having its first professional London production in 35 years at the Finborough Theatre. It’s an opportunity to see if the arguments of thirty years ago hold insight into the ones of today. In many ways they do. In others they don’t.

The play presents three women living as second class citizens in a first world country. There’s earnest social worker Rowena (Olivia Darnley), her mother (Sophie Doherty) and her friend Yvonne (Tessie Orange Turner). 

Set in the era when sex cinemas were part of the West End fabric, on one level it feels quaint with its approach to pornographic magazines. Studies on the effects of pornography have been inconclusive. But here they’re seen as the source of violence and men’s power over women. The men in the piece are either lecherous or ignorant.

But on the other hand, part of you makes you wonder if this piece was about now, how much would change? For every platitude about narrowing gender pay gaps and breaking the glass ceiling, there’s a story about a gang rape acquittal.

And while the medium may have changed, the messages seem similar. Online porn has usurped the prevalence of Girlie magazines. Unwanted dick pics are the new catcalling. What was once overt is now covert. And potentially more dangerous. 

The structure of the piece with its flashbacks and many characters is jarring at times. But what emerges is a powerful story about women who take different paths to deal with male dominated world.

Verity Quinn’s production design plasters a range of girlie magazines on the wall with a plastic curtain that makes it feel like you’re in an abattoir. In some ways we are.

Directed by Melissa Dunne, Masterpieces is at the Finborough Theatre until 19 May.


Photos by Bill Prentice

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