Here. the 99%

Rating **
Reviewed by Tony Peters

The title of BackHere! Theatre’s showcase for new young writers highlights the fact that the majority of the nation’s wealth is in the hands of just 1% of the population, while the rest are left struggling with increasing economic hardship and the effects of cuts.

The seven short plays or monologues presented here give a voice to a disenfranchised youth who just want the opportunity to work and make their place in the world. While that is a message that any sane person would find it difficult to argue with, the dramatic results, both from the writers and performers, only work rather sporadically.

Laura Morgan performing Faye Marie’s Lost Generation gets things off to a potent and moving start. She begins in the style of a stand-up but then we realise this is a young woman recounting her own death, driven to suicide by the sheer frustration of not finding a job.

The rest of the evening mostly follows a similar style, delivering stinging social comment via laughter.

Things work best when at their most absurdist, as in Chris O’Connor’s Betting with the Budget, a savage but very funny dig at the government’s cavalier attitude and incompetence with the economy that sees treasury ministers aiming to wipe out the deficit in one go by gambling all the country’s money on a football match.

And Isabelle Emma Stokes’ cleverly constructed Sex (Ism) Sells should resonate with anyone who has ever gone for a job only to find that the bloke doing the interviewing is the biggest idiot in the room.

However, D A Nixon’s Arts Grant is breathtakingly naïve. Surely there are better examples of the bankers’ lack of compassion and empathy than portraying one refusing to lend £12,000 to a woman who fancies writing a novel?

I could have done without the political speeches interrupting proceedings. While I was sympathetic to the views being expressed, I would have preferred the message to remain within the work rather than the fourth wall being broken. And although some were more effective than others, the writers here proved that when it comes to delivering a message, they are all on the right track and capable of expressing their views loud and clear without intervention.

Playing at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith

Writers: Faye Marie, Leanne Alabi, D A Nixon, Chris O’Connor, Ellen Carr, Isabelle Emma Stokes, William Bryan

Performers: Laura Morgan, Jannine Perrineau, Ben Wiggins, Damien Hughes, Andy Apollo, Claire Lowrie, Helena Doughty

Artistic Director: Craig Henry