Last Updated on 17th August 2018
Paul T Davies reviews Penelope Skiner’s play Meek now playing at the Traverse Theatre at the Edinburgh Fringe.
Dystopian drama is a distinct and enduring genre, and Penelope Skinner’s powerful new play, produced by Headlong, is a portrait of ruthless state control, especially of women. It’s a shame that the TV adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale casts a strong shadow as the themes are very similar. But Skinner uses precise revelations and clues to paint a suffocating world through fragile female friendship.
The trio of actors work extremely well together and they are a fine ensemble. Irene, excellent Shvorne Marks, is imprisoned for singing a blashemous song in public. Her dream is to be famous and share her music, but her trial goes against her, and she refuses to tell the lies of the State to save their international image. Lawyer Gudrun, Amanda Wright, fights to save her, but worldwide protests fail. Skinner reveals that this is also a tale of betrayal, and religious friend Anna, Scarlett Brookes, underlines patriarchy successfully dividing and ruling.
It’s bleak but pertinent, beautifully directed by Amy Hodge, and the design takes us through the seasons with clarity. The country is un- named, but it may be a Scandinavian one known currently for tolerance. That whispers of a woman’s place are becoming louder, means that this is a tale still needing to be told.