Jonathan Hall reviews Debbie Tucker Green’s play Random 7.37 starring Kiza Deen now playing at Leeds Playhouse.
7.37 am; a household like a thousand other urban households- Mother, Father, Daughter, Son, all stirring to face their respective days (except the Father, he’s working shifts) Through a mosaic of mundane details their day unfolds, birdsong, burnt porridge, Walkers crisps, stroppy teachers and office politics. Only this isn’t just another day, as the four voices breathing life and detail into this day suddenly become three.
In the eleven years since Debbie Tucker Green’s play exploring the impact of knife crime amongst the young was first produced, the problem has spiralled; last year saw a 16% increase in the number of cases, the highest number since 2011. It’s an issue that’s never far from the headlines, as the murder of Nedim Bilgin only days ago graphically showed; it’s also a problem many of us have become somewhat desensitized to, which means a play like this is not only relevant but necessary.
The story is simple; an ordinary family are ripped apart by the murder of a family member. The mundaneity of the days details acquire a devastating and heart-breaking quality in equal measure, the police boots on the carpet, the over sweetness of the tea, the smell of the murdered boys bedroom. And then there are the details that are not so mundane; the graphic injuries inflicted on the boy, the smile cut into his face. Wisely Tucker Green’s story raises more questions than it answers- we never know exactly how and why the crime took place, no solutions are offered, we’re just presented with the raw, shocking fact of the event, its bewildering aftermath and the senselessness of a problem we’re tempted to be thankful isn’t ours.
The family is brought to life in grumpy, humorous, angry, heart breaking glory by Kiza Deen switching expertly from daughter to mother to son to father; in this she’s directed by precision through the emotional kaleidoscope of the story by Gbolahan Obisesan.
The play is not a long one, running under an hour- just long enough to deliver its emotional punch, raise it’s many questions and not outstay it’s welcome, leaving us with our own thoughts and reactions. The show is running back to back with another production, the excellent ‘Kes’, giving theatre goers the choice of two shows an evening in the one space, a novel and welcome use of the Pop up Space at the Leeds Playhouse, a refreshing arrangement that would be good to see when the refurbished venue reopens.
Amongst the many adjectives which could be used to describe Random 7.37, the one that comes to mind most strongly is necessary. A tour of this show round urban schools would hopefully fuel the conversations amongst those closest to the problems.
Until 16 February 2019