Last Updated on 24th April 2015
17 April 2015
Reviewed by James Garden
It is always exciting to enter into the secondary space at Southwark Playhouse—there’s an electricity in the air that comes from seeing brand new work, while also sat nearly in-the-round. It’s as if there’s an instant community built. In the case of Theatre Renegade’s “Scarlet,” now at Southwark Playhouse until 9 May, this insta-community is magnified by our four leading ladies’ constant presence in the space—as soon as an audience walks in, we are confronted with scantily clad women bathed in deep red light.
But this play is not about prostitution, it’s about gender violence among young adults, an extremely important issue, that is finally getting the amount of airplay around the globe that it deserves (although it could realistically use more.)
Scarlet, the main character, is represented by the four actresses, as they trade off telling the story of this young woman whose life is destroyed by an ill-conceived Facebook video posting.
Each actress brings a distinctly different theatricality to the character, but together, they, under the careful direction of Joe Hufton and movement director Chi-San Howard, craft one of the most intriguing, watchable, and thought provoking characters currently playing in London. The physical and vocal work that each actress has managed to embody in order to craft both Scarlet and every incidental character, including her attacker, works perfectly in this hyper-theatrical piece. Lucy Kilpatrick, Jade Ogugua, Heida Reed, and Asha Reid are all to be applauded for this tour-de-force performance.
Sam H. Freeman’s script reads with an authenticity that pops with realism, even with the hypertheatrical conceit of four characters playing different aspects of the same woman. The work is brutal, but utterly watchable. The design of the piece, whether it is Lydia Denno’s costume and set design, Matt Leventhall’s Lighting, Harry Butcher’s sound, or music composed by Ed Burgon and Benji Huntrods, all work flawlessly together. Not a single beat is ill-conceived or unexamined. This is one of the tightest pieces of fringe theatre currently on the stage.
Scarlet is an important piece of work that is not to be missed.