[title of show]: [Blank] @DonmarWarehouse

From 100 scenes that run over 500 pages comes [Blank], which is currently running at the Donmar Warehouse. It’s a do it yourself play by Alice Birch where the production can choose the number of scenes and the order of them. Thumbing through the play text, I first assumed it would be an epic night out at the theatre. Thankfully Director Maria Aberg has chosen thirty of them, and the end result is an evocative and emotional journey of women on the margins of society. Or at least that’s what it seemed to me. It becomes a do-it-yourself play for the audience too as you begin to piece together the various characters before and start making connections about what you’re seeing.

And as windows smash, crockery breaks or salty pasta gets eaten, what emerges are the struggles of a range of different women who find themselves in circumstances they cannot escape from. Women in prison, or a refuge, or selling themselves to get by. In the light of the #metoo era, which is hilariously put down as a “revolution on twitter” it’s a thought-provoking piece.

This could be a worthy topic for a night at the theatre, but there is a lot of warmth and humour in the piece, aided by a strong all-female ensemble that includes Shona Babayemi and Joanna Horton.

There are the two girls in foster care setting new ground rules and debating the merits of keeping all your possessions in carrier bags to the outreach worker rehearsing how to tell a mother her daughter died. Each scene serves to underscore the plight of women, particularly those in the criminal justice system, in a sensitive yet realistic way.

Things come to a head at a dinner party with a bunch of affluent liberal women. While talking about how their lives were changed, volunteering for 10 days at an orphanage in South America among plates of clafoutis and lines of coke, their privilege and virtue signalling is challenged with devastating effect.

A provocative view on whether it’s possible to escape poverty, violence and liberal platitudes. Directed by Maria Aberg, [Blank] is at the Donmar Warehouse until 30 November.


Photos by Helen Maybanks

Popular posts from this blog

Opera and full frontal nudity: Rigoletto

Ramin Karimloo: the unstoppable beast

The sweet smell of progress: The Sugar House @finborough