This review was originally written for the Londonist.
We certainly aren’t in SW1 anymore Toto. Normally based in the salubrious surroundings of Sloane Square, the Royal Court has upped sticks and moved to Elephant and Castle, to the glorious shopping centre on that epic roundabout no less.
Up one level, opposite Price Mark and Cafe Nova, unit 215 has been turned into a temporary performance space and is hosting a series of plays, some old, some new, over the next six months. Tickets are a mere £8 (pay what you like on Wednesdays) and the plays are short and sweet.
First on the bill is ‘random’, a powerful 50 minute piece that was first performed at the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs in March 2008. It’s relocated to SE1 to kick off the Theatre Local season. It’s a day in the life of four members of one family, but has been written by Debbie Tucker Green to be performed by a single black woman.
After queuing patiently out in the brightly lit mall, we enter a small rectangular space filled with battered sofas and odd chairs. This is intimate unreserved seating, where the performer is unable to escape the close scrutiny of an audience that is sunk deep in soft surroundings. Throughout the performance, the noises of the shopping centre intrude, adding to, rather than distracting from, the play. The shadows of passing evening shoppers loom past the covered shop front windows.
Seroca Davis delivers a blinding performance in ‘random’, which grips from the word go. The script is rhythmic and poetic, delivered with power and wit and humanity. One woman, in gleaming green tracksuit top and comfy bottoms, becomes an entire family, convincing as mum and dad, as well as brother and sister. We move from comedy to tragedy in swift blows, knowing grins are wiped off faces and sad tears spike watching eyes as another young man becomes the victim of a terrible stabbing.
‘random’ is highly recommended viewing, and the Theatre Local season is definitely one to investigate. Other plays in the series include Disconnect, The Empire and Spur of the Moment.
Find out more at www.royalcourttheatre.com