Under My Thumb

Six women. One prison cell. After committing crimes that didn’t conform with the dystopian and misogynistic society these women live in, they are thrown together and forced to create their own society in jail. The only way to get out? Taking “the test”. But do these women want to admit to doing wrong even though they know deep down they are innocent? CultureClash bring Under My Thumb to the Brighton Fringe for 3 nights only.

With many hard-hitting moments, this play should have affected me more than it did, but it was lacking that wow factor

The constant battle of whether they should try and leave prison is what drives this play. These women all have their own individual stories, with one being raped and another sexually abused as a child. There’s no wonder they don’t want to return to that horrific society. However, the ringleader of the group, Hattie (Charlotte Green), doesn’t make life easy in jail. She bullies the other girls into fighting to stay “strong”, as she creates this unhinged hierarchy.

Lily (Alice DeWarrenne) holds the play together. Tough yet compassionate, she has a relationship with all the characters and Alice portrays Lily in a moving and believable way as the strongest actress of the group. Rosaline (Ketorah Williams), Sam (Casandra Hercules) and Nev (Jessica Aquilina) are easily manipulated, constantly battling with their consciences and their fearfulness of Hattie. Then enters Ree (Serin Ibrahim) – the new girl. She seems posh and rather naïve but soon the group realise she isn’t all that she seems.

Written by Cassiah Joski-Jethi, the originality of the idea is fresh whilst still managing to maintain some common feminist themes running through the play. We see these young women really struggle; letting their pride be destroyed by denying their innocence and giving into the men is hard to stomach, but will that lead to the freedom they long for?

This piece is very much about group mentality and the psychological game between these different types of women. The relationships between all the characters were well established, with great roles for young females that gave each actor their moment to shine. Although the importance of silence and subtext was vital to this piece and was used well to create a tense atmosphere, for me something was missing. The scenes all blended into one and it needed a quicker pace as it was quite slow moving. The performances as a whole were good, although some parts were slightly over-acted and I didn’t feel as moved as I think director James Haddrell intended the audience to feel.

With many hard-hitting moments, this play should have affected me more than it did, but it was lacking that wow factor. Although this is a great idea for a play and obviously well written, it fell slightly short of being the exciting and moving piece of theatre that it had the potential to be.

Reviews by Lucy Alexander

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Since you’re here…

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You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
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Theatre MAD
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Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
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Performances

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The Blurb

In a dystopian present, five women are imprisoned for crimes against society. Brought together by a common enemy and facing indefinite incarceration, the one dignity remaining to them is their continuing belief in their own innocence. The arrival of yet another prisoner seems no surprise, just another woman brought down by the world outside, but is she all that she seems? “Mesmerising” **** (Broadway Baby), “Chilling, full of drama, well-acted by the six actors and extremely emotional... a brilliant piece” **** (South London Press), “A masterpiece” (Maritime Radio).

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