debbie tucker green’s Hang bends reality in its premise: a victim being able to select the mode of death penalty that their perpetrator is subjected to. This is a short but intense piece that raises questions around treatment of victims by legal systems and wider society at large. It brings home the notion of victims having to go through ordeal after ordeal, beyond the initial trauma of an incident. I say victim because I cannot be more specific than that. The writer intentionally does not disclose the exact nature of what has happened to ‘3’ (the victim). It is through her interactions with ‘1’ and ‘2’ (the social workers, for want of a better description) that the writer drips feeds a picture of the consequence of the incident but never the incident itself in explicit terms. It is masterfully crafted storytelling.
The production is brought to us by Cardiff based (and Aberystwyth founded) Run Amok Theatre, in association with The Other Room. Artistic director Izzy Rabey takes the reigns here and directs tucker green’s wonderful script in the most sensitive and gentle manner – she allows the action to flow over a definite rhythmical arch that creates and allows the tensions to be played out beautifully. This play is short at 70 minutes or thereabouts but it feels like you, as a spectator, are working for far longer.
All three actors are superb in this piece. Alexandria Riley who plays ‘1’ is brilliant in how she provides stability at the beginning, stability that gets wonderfully eroded by her showing the human face to a warped legal system (fictionally, but likely to be metaphorical at the very least). Seren Vickers (‘2’) is fantastic in providing much of the laughs for the evening interrupting and disrupting the tensions at play. There is also a sweetly tragic side to her character that comes across in Vicker’s performance of someone getting caught up in something that she has no control over but is ultimate complicit by proxy. This aspect is also played wonderfully.
If there is a ‘main protagonist’ to this piece it is ‘3’ played by Anita Reynolds. Reynolds is sublime in making us feel as uncomfortable as possible as witnesses. Playing a person that is so unreasonable, so unwavering, and so deserving in being unreasonable and unwavering must challenge any actor in striking a balance between action and justification for the action. Reynolds handles this brilliantly because despite not knowing what has happened to her and despite thinking she is not being fair to ‘1’ and ‘2’ you are always on her side.
Ultimately, I think these performances work because of each other e.g. we would not feel as uncomfortable by ‘3’ actions if ‘1’ and ‘2’ weren’t as uncomfortable, or we wouldn’t laugh at/with ‘2’ if she didn’t butt up against ‘1’ and ‘3’ so much. It is in this that Rabey must be commended again, in creating an environment where these relationships can grow but also seem fresh when present to an audience.
A completely engaging and intense performance that will make you feel that you gone three rounds in a boxing ring with debbie tucker green.
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