Laqueum

The Huntley Street Theatre Company presents Laqueum, a new theatrical performance set in a female prison, which explores isolation and entrapment.

Laqueum has its heart in the right place and the necessary talent to do well, but it is a very confused piece.

Inmate ‘L’ enters the eponymous prison and discovers big boss Lola rewards her male wardens by granting one an hour with a female prisoner to use as he pleases. Unable to accept her incarceration and this abuse, L conceives an escape plan.

Laqueum has its heart in the right place and the necessary talent to do well, but it is a very confused piece.

The show started well, with the audience led into the beautifully designed space and seated around the stage. There was a sense of excitement and slight trepidation as we were allocated seats. However, it’s a point worth noting that some of the lighting choices lead to restricted views, particularly from the glare of stage lights.

There is a wonderful sense of ensemble and it is clear that the cast are very talented but there is too much going on; the patchwork of techniques clouds the story. This is a great shame because the themes explored are captivating. Moreover, the research into true accounts of women’s experiences of abuse in prison really deserves a better showing.

When the singing was used as a score to the action, it was usually spot-on. However, a fully-fledged musical number – adjusting Cell Block Tango from Chicago – jars, coming immediately after a humiliating prisoner inspection. It feels a bit Baz Luhrmann, trivialising the ordeal of what I assume is a real account of a prisoner.

The carefully-created grim atmosphere is shattered in these moments. Furthermore, sections filled with illustrative philosophical text alternated with scenes that resembled the clay animation Chicken Run, perhaps because this piece too is based on The Great Escape. Light relief is all well and good but the concept of a cabaret-show to escape the dark world of a high-security, no rules prison is itself so off-beat already that the piece doesn’t need another quirky twist.

Laqueum has all of the ingredients to be a great piece and, as the company plans development, I am curious to see what emerges. There’s clearly a lot to say, but perhaps the message would be more powerful if they refrained from saying it all at once.

Reviews by Clarissa Widya

Alice The Musical

★★★★
Landor Theatre

Best of Friends

★★
Camden People's Theatre

Laqueum

★★★

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Set in a women’s prison, Laqueum is an immersive-style show which combines polyphonic singing, physical theatre and rich montaged text from the classical canon as well as new writing.

Behind the prison bars the lines between fiction and fantasy, hope and despair, begin to blur. Will the radical ideas of a new prisoner provide the inmates with the escape they dream of?

Step into the world of Laqueum where your experience will be subject to the whims of those who hold the power and those who burn with the desire for freedom.

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