We Are Not Criminals

If you’re in the mood for chilling, hard-hitting drama, look no further than We Are Not Criminals. This short play from Forty Elephants Theatre Company details the difficult and tense reunion of five women. The elephant in the room? 15 years ago, as school children, they murdered a ten year old girl. Sarah Stirton’s excellent writing explores whether it is possible to truly move on from the past and really packs a punch with an ending you won’t see coming.

We Are Not Criminals is truly a theatrical gem hidden in the bustle of big names at the festival.

We Are Not Criminals gripped me right from the start. The opening depicts the murder whilst the victim, Sophie, is not present on stage but instead somewhere at the back with the girls firing their cruel taunts into the audience. Though this powerfully emphasized the kind of group mindset that can overwhelm individual responsibility, the eyeline of the actors didn’t alter at all even as Sophie fell which unfortunately removed some convincing realism out of the scene.

We then cut to 15 years later although this took a while to figure out as there wasn’t quite enough to signal the long shift in time straight away. We are in the flat of Clara, the ringleader of the group, who has suddenly organised a surprise reunion for the girls.

The play was simply intriguing and took many unexpected twists and turns. There were two mysteries at heart - how the women’s lives had changed because of the murder and why Clara had decided on the reunion out of the blue. The answers were a definite surprise.

The acting was incredibly strong throughout and seemed very natural. Particular credit should go to Sarah Stirton, the writer of the piece, in her role as Clara. She had a terrifying level of authority and managed to dominate the stage from the background in a puppetmaster fashion. I also really enjoyed watching Hannah Barretto as Lucy. She had a jumpy and nervous character that reacted intensely to the events around her.

The only thing I would improve about the performances would be its lack of motivations. There was constant moving across the stage with no reason or motive which undid the work of the naturalistic performances.

We Are Not Criminals is truly a theatrical gem hidden in the bustle of big names at the festival. A clever and intricate script is combined with new, upcoming talent to weave a story that will have you on the edge of your seat. I guarantee you will leave impressed. 

Reviews by Carla van der Sluijs

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Performances

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The Blurb

When ten-year-old Sophie Turner was found dead, the lives of five young girls were changed forever. Now, after fifteen years have passed, the girls held responsible have come back together for one night. Tensions begin to mount as they discuss their lives after the death of Sophie and as the night unfolds, secrets are finally unveiled. With the truth now exposed, friendships are torn apart. But the girls soon realise, maybe there was another reason for this reunion…

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