Ruckus at Southwark Playhouse
Written by and starring Jenna Fincken, Ruckus is a thriller about coercive control as a form of domestic abuse, based on the true experiences and accounts of real women. This one-woman show depicts 824 days, following Lou and her relationship with Ryan. Directed by Georgia Green, it is an unsettling production that sheds light on an issue suffered by many, and that claims up to three women a week in the UK.
Physicality is as much a character in this piece as Lou: under the direction of Christina Fulcher, Fincken carries out her movements with such conviction that the audience feels every emotional punch and blow. The actress weaves a tapestry to bring the story alive, helping viewers to experience every insecurity, every frustration and every inner conflict experienced by her character. At the culmination of the play, the exasperation is shared by both the crowd and Lou on-stage – a testament to the conviction with which Fincken plays the role.
In a one-person show, the ability to tell a story is essential – not only to carry the narrative, but also to keep the viewers’ attention. Fincken achieves this magnificently, bringing the audience to raucous laughter, but also to shedding a tear. She manages to keep them entertained, while at the same time helping them invest in the story that she is telling. Her talent as an actor also comes through in her ability to take on the personas of all of the other characters involved. Most interesting is her depiction of Bryony, who offers the unfortunate worldview that women like Lou make it harder for other women to be believed.
The cyclical nature of the play highlights a harrowing fact: this happens to three women a week in the UK. One is challenged to answer the question: “Did you see it?” – an entreaty that resonates as we watch Lou revisit this traumatic relationship again and again, until it is finally clear what she so desperately wants to see herself. One of the most striking moments is when Fincken breaks the fourth wall in order to reassure the theatre that she knows how it all looks and she isn’t stupid, further emphasising the difficulties women face in the complex predicament of non-violent domestic abuse.
There is guidance given before Ruckus as the theme of lesser-known forms of domestic abuse is explored and dissected throughout. It is a very raw and haunting look into the unfortunate reality of many women who experience this type of abuse every day. The challenge to acknowledge whether one has seen it is a question that not only illuminates the difficulty of spotting abuse before it is too late, but also makes the audience examine their culpability in staying silent.
Photo: Ali Wright
Ruckus is at Southwark Playhouse from 5th October until 29th October 2022. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch Jenna Fincken discuss the production here: