The Autumn season opens at The Other Room with the regional premiere of hang. An ambitious choice by Welsh theatre company Run Amok, under the direction of Izzy Rabey the complexities of the piece are sensitively handled, enabling the tension and emotion of the play to be conveyed and felt.
hang tells the story of a woman’s choice, a choice unthinkable. Whether, and how, to subject a person to the death sentence. And, due to debbie tucker green’s writing, a choice which the audience is unable to truly appreciate, such is the lack of facts conveyed within the play.
We are introduced to three characters – One, Two and Three. Either for equitable purposes or to enshrine the piece further in the processes and systems which surround human activity. The governance and policies we are tied within.
One and Two are case workers, who have a task to undertake, with rules with which to comply. Amy Cook’s set design completely integrates with the story, in simplicity and detail. One and two introduce us to the traditionally modern meeting room setting, complemented by Jonny Patton’s sound design. These elements adding further enhancement to the systematic motions of working life.
But this is quickly turned on its head. Three, played by Anita Reynolds, demonstrates that there are situations where a script cannot be followed, for which no amount of training can prepare. Anita Reynolds is completely solid as Three. Solid in creating a physical and verbal vulnerability despite the seeming stoicism. Creating power through a refusal to engage in the verbal cues so sought by One and Two. Carefully utilising the power of silence to underline the importance of her story. Demonstrating emotion through the physical consequence of the unnamed crime and through the empathy of the effect the crime has had on her family.
As One and Two, Alexandria Riley and Seren Vickers respectively, work as a form of victim support within the justice system. Both portray the motions which underpin such roles to create ironic humour and reality. The lies which unravel as they become tied up within policies and procedures.
debbie tucker green’s writing leaves you nodding acknowledgement. This is the writing which challenges throughout. Understanding how it is possible empathise without a full awareness of the facts. Appreciating all which surrounds us creates bias within the decisions we make.
Three strong actors enable the associated emotional response regardless of the deliberate lack of information. Vickers’ brings the confidence of a new recruit with a lack of experience to life, especially in her delivery of the options available in selecting one’s death sentence. Riley balances this capably as the more experienced, life-aware co-worker. And this strong partnership enables the strength of the victim to prevail. In spite of any weakness created by the crime, One is able to conclude the fate of the perpetrator. Anita Reynolds creates the power behind the piece, in the face of where power traditionally sits in the legal system.
The production does what good theatre can – leaves you contemplating once you’ve left your seat what you have absorbed. Questioning everything which is unknown and everything which is accepted.
hang by debbie tucker green is at The Other Room until 16th September with tickets available on the website.
Disclosure: I received tickets for the purpose of this review. All opinions and words contained are my own.