Crime Of The Century

“Dan! Keep safe!” the show starts … but how? How can a youngster be safe if they can be knifed on their own doorstep? This is the unfortunate reality of contemporary society – not just in large cities.Chickenshed attempts to raise awareness of the issues surrounding this problem through this production. Ground-breaking in terms of inclusionist and socially-aware theatre, they pack quite a punch with this production. It starts with a recording of a man reciting a list of questions – surtitles are used throughout as an inclusive device. The piece goes on to recreate scenes, or rather the emotional states which lie at the root of typical stages which people go through in the journey towards perpetrating extreme violence. The individual scenes are performed with deep insight, professional movement which combines mime, dance and physical theatre. They include ostracisation, domestic violence, bullying, lack of discipline in school, peer pressure. The action moves into a theatrical scene of street violence which is more shocking in the argument which justifies it in the eyes of the perpetrators than the physical act itself. It’s followed by a moving depiction of the loneliness and isolation of incarceration. The still actor, immobile in the space, framed by a rectangle of light shows the build-up of frustration in a victim of the social system so clearly the audience members could reach out and touch it. Inevitably the cycle comes round again, with anger unable to find any outlet apart from violence, leading to more frustration. It’s an age-old problem, but Chickenshed tackle it in a sensitive, contemporary way. This is not just a local problem. It’s a social one that goes much wider. The script is strong and has enormous street cred. There is a reference to internationalism in the mention of ‘feds’ alongside references to ‘police’. Digital imagery, a pulsating soundtrack, strong, heart-felt dance and well-chosen comments from experts punctuate the script. It could have been a recipe for disaster, somewhere between documentary and theatrical posturing. It is to the actors’ credit that they manage to transcend the obvious and bring these disparate elements together to make a great piece of theatre. The last scene, notable again for its intense stillness, will stay with me for a very long time. In the meantime, the warning which opens and closes the show, ‘Keep safe!’ is a warning well-heeded.

Reviews by Leon Conrad

The Blurb

'I shanked him. D'ya understand? I shanked him. ' Chickenshed's explosive dance theatre turns its attention to the proliferation of knife crime amongst young people. From the creators of 'As the Mother of a Brown Boy'. www.chickenshed.org.uk