Boosters is a one-woman show documenting individuals’ various experiences with the prison system. As expected it deals with some heavy topics: restorative justice, rehabilitation and drug addiction. Although this sounds like a mission with just an hour-long slot, the topics are dealt with delicately, resulting in a serious production with a thought-provoking ending.
What Boosters lacks in drama, it makes up for in truthfulness.
The actor, Hannah Smith, bravely jumps between characters. At the beginning of the play it is tricky to establish which character Smith is playing and to follow all their storylines. This is unaided by the short scenes, which do not quite allow the audience time to digest each new character, and also makes the storytelling feel a little disjointed. In spite of this, Smith carries the different characters well, rapidly changing her body language and voice to fit that of an aloof lawyer, an experienced and compassionate policewoman, and an offender who is somewhat temperamental. Although the portrayals of some characters were more believable than others, it was impressive to see how smoothly her mannerisms changed.
Although this is a one-woman show, Smith is not alone on stage. A teddy is used to represent a few different characters. This is particularly effective during one of the early scenes, when Smith, as a lawyer, is pointing out to the imagined jury where a victim’s injuries were sustained from an assault. This is reminiscent of the techniques employed to help children give evidence of sexual abuse and, as the teddy bear is a passive puppet in the lawyer’s hands, adds a metaphorical dimension to the scene
What would perhaps feel like a slightly stale production is rescued here by the use of voiceovers. In what we learn at the end are true anecdotes, we hear about the childhood aspirations of offenders and stories of the effectiveness of restorative justice.
What Boosters lacks in drama, it makes up for in truthfulness, made clear at the end with a heart-warming thank you from the actor. It is clear then that themes of rehabilitation and justice are particularly important to her, and although they are by no means solved in the short hour, sharing these stories offers a unique and personal insight into the private struggles of those within the prison system.