Theatre Uncut at the Young Vic
Theatre Uncut is a showcase of short, politically driven plays (available free online to be performed worldwide). At the Young Vic plasma screens scroll through the list of locations where performances are taking place.
There is a range of quality in the writing: the first play Pick One consists of three suited Americans in leather chairs, bourbon in hand, discussing the elimination of black people. It seems to be trying to make us question our instinctive reaction to such a shocking topic, but it is difficult to make the audience buy into such extreme conceit.
Amanda by Kieran Hurley shows a woman soaking in a bath after a stressful day at work. Hurley takes the everyday, familiar indulgences of normal people, like pulling a sickie or taking a bath, and applies them to someone with an unpopular job, in this case a politician. Mark Thomas’ contribution highlights the hypocrisy of The Daily Voice – a newspaper that, we are told, is not meant to be compared to The Daily Express despite the coincidence of facts: they blame migrants for sponging off the state and yet use loopholes to avoid paying any tax. This play is what good satire should be: funny but it highlights an important political issue.
The brevity of the short plays does not leave much room to develop ideas within them, but Tim Price’s Capitalism is Crisis manages to be well structured, with two deep and interesting characters. They both become involved in the Occupy movement, but while one begins brimming with its ideals that then fade to cynicism, the other starts from a capitalist viewpoint and ends up committed to the Occupy philosophy.
All the plays are very left-leaning – it would have been interesting to see issues considered from different political perspectives. In the post-show discussion, Mark Thomas stresses how important action is when compared to “sitting and tutting”. Yet as theatregoers we are just sitting and tutting. The issues presented in the plays (racism, religion, poverty, etc) deeply affect lives every day, but in a scripted theatrical setting they become unreal. In this sense, Theatre Uncut shows how ineffectual theatre can be as a way of provoking political action; by virtue of its being theatre, Theatre Uncut perhaps begins to undermine its own agenda.
Theatre Uncut is on at the Young Vic until 23rd November, for further information or to book visit here.