A flyer for Enough is Enough asks us if we think we’ve heard it all before and dares us to hear “the stories that you haven’t heard” but unfortunately from a sociological and theatrical view point, most of us will be all too familiar with the stories of abuse and rape that are presented. They flash across our TV screens with grim regularity, and it is this perpetual recidivism that makes these women rage.
And rage they do, through hard rock beats, screaming guitars, defiant trumpet and plaintive accordion. With music written by cast member Maddie Jones, the gig-style piece retells accounts of abuse by mainly male perpetrators on female victims. It carries a blunt message that misses some of the less openly discussed elements of abuse. That both abuser and abusee can be male or female and our patriarchal system often stigmatises survivors of rape independent of gender. Of course the statistics tell us that nearly 90% of reported rape cases are committed by men on women; but that’s a story we have already heard.
There are some fine moments within the show: a poignant gypsy lament, some dark humour that helps cut through the tension. Its greatest success, however, comes when the stories turn to accounts of everyday abusive behaviour: the teacher who reports that girls are called explicit names in class on a daily basis, that boys’ mobile phones are confiscated after watching hardcore pornography in lessons. These tales tend not to be told and our inaction in determining the effects of such behaviour on both boys and girls, our ignorance of the impact on society that this erosion of value and respect for one another has, shows how deeply our culture has normalised the over-sexualised and disturbingly violent ways that people relate (or not) to one another. This is indeed something to get angry about.
The final song, performed with resignation, lists a familiar sequence of thinly disguised assaults on the young female body: boys demanding to see developing breasts, the forced kiss between a twelve year old and a middle aged man at a party. They are small events, easy to shake off individually but with the potential, like freeze-thaw erosion, to cause immense damage when repeated over time. It is a disturbing reminder that these things are not unusual.
Do not expect the warmth of an intimate gig. This is a protest piece that rages at all who listen and if you are a man in the audience be prepared to shoulder the blame.