The room smells of Deep Heat. The reason, Sophie Rose explains to us, is because the big physical show upstairs warm up in her studio space.
Quiet Violence is not big, it’s not physical; but it is clever, it is quiet and it is, in its own charming way, absolutely necessary.
She tells stories of her encounters with others. She watches football with Stanley, who lives in the flat downstairs. She goes to rubbish house parties with her flat-mates. She has bad sex with Craig, her nearly-boyfriend who would never make her soup. All of this is told in the same warm, open and funny manner with which she greets us.
The piece straddles the line between a traditional personal monologue and extended spoken word piece. Occasionally this feels slightly awkward but, since Rose tells everything in her own inimitable style, it’s difficult to criticise. Moments of verbose poetry are countered by charmingly playful images: Stanley’s “nice ‘n’ spicy Nik-Nak knees”; the awkward “doorstep Charleston” she dances outside Craig’s flat, a lonely shuffle whilst waiting for a man that she knows doesn’t love her.
It is in these moments of everyday observation where Rose is at her best – she riffs on carrier bags like an experienced stand-up – and yet the show is underscored by a pervasive ennui, the existential crisis of a 20-something woman at odds with Modernity. Rose navigates and narrates the world with a refreshingly honest confusion. Why does she feel the need to wear high-heels one size too small? Why do we buy cheap toilet paper when we happily waste money elsewhere? Why do we choose to live in Jenga tower blocks: crammed, impractical and too expensive to rent?
These are the acts of quiet violence that we willingly commit against ourselves every day. Rose doesn’t pretend to have the answers as to why we do so, but she poses all of the right questions. Her monologue doesn’t move but it does charm, gently provoking us to consider our lives as they stand and whether we need to change them. Quiet Violence is not big, it’s not physical; but it is clever, it is quiet and it is, in its own charming way, absolutely necessary.