Chickenshed Theatre: Crime of the Century YouTube premiere
A decade on from its first outing, Chickenshed’s Crime of the Century is back with a YouTube premiere.
After violent knife crime, including fatal stabbings, rose in the late 2000s, the theatre company developed a new play to talk about what was happening: Crime of the Century. It follows how someone can get caught up in gang culture, why they might feel the need to arm themselves, and how that affects them, the people around them and society as a whole.
In a bid to be explosive, energetic and edgy, Crime of the Century combines abstract interpretive dance with rap and hip hop, and elements of psychological thriller with monologues and more. It chops and changes to keep audiences on edge. Narratively, it’s an interesting look at how society creates this problem, reacts to it, judges it and attacks it, but never solves it. The message feels perhaps even more important than ever, given that it’s ten years on and violent knife crime hasn’t gone away. It is surely time to acknowledge that, reflect on what has been done wrong and finally change things.
Unfortunately the poor film quality is massively distracting and disconnecting. It’s got the production quality of a primary school nativity play filmed by a proud but clueless parent on an old-school Sony camcorder. It’s a shame because the play is almost certainly better in person and most definitely tells an important story. But watching it through this lens puts an almost nauseating barrier between the message and its audience. In this viewing, the low sound quality causes viewers to miss out on the atmosphere the crew no doubt spent a long time engineering, and the patchy visuals, odd camera angles and inexplicable fade transitions sap the energy out of the performance. Chickenshed themselves describe the show as hard-hitting, raw and packing a frightening punch. While the elements seem to be there to make this true, their edges are dulled in this medium.
Crime of the Century tells a decade-old story that, tragically, is still just as applicable in 2020. For that reason alone it deserves attention, but this particular way to experience the production is not flattering. Hopefully it will get another chance when audiences return to theatres and are able to experience it in person.
Crime of the Century is available to stream via YouTube from 27th November until 31st December 2020. For further information visit the theatre’s website here.