- Miles Hedley
VOICES IN THE DARK Greenwich Theatre
Updated: Aug 2, 2020
Covid-19 has forced creatives across the arts to find new forms of expression. And Greenwich Theatre’s latest contribution to online drama, a set of six short plays under the banner Voices In The Dark, offers proof that the fires of imagination continue to burn bright despite the lockdown gloom.
Premiered in groups of three over two nights on Facebook, the series offered writers and performers the opportunity to present original work at a time when live theatre is almost impossible. They all rose to the challenge admirably.
The standout piece also opened the series. The Iniquity Of Us All, written and performed by Kit McGuire and directed by James Haddrell, was a stunning examination of queer identity, the minefield of its nomenclature and the violent reaction gender fluidity can provoke.
McGuire, her face bloodied but her eyes blazing defiantly after a brutal assault in front of disinterested passers-by, took us on a rollercoaster ride through sexual politics by way of lesbian book clubs, a fabulous joke about Theresa May and a cactus, the hypocrisy of organised religion, Rose Alatini’s banned 1918 novel Despised And Rejected and Sigismund Goetze’s acerbic 1904 painting He Was Despised And Rejected By Men. Unsurprisingly, McGuire’s sensational piece was called Despised And Rejected, which is the precise opposite of how it will be seen by audiences - Loved And Embraced.
Toby Cohen addressed lockdown directly with the one-hander R, a moving story of a lonely middle-aged man reconnecting with a lost love only to see her fall prey to the ravages of the coronavirus. In less capable hands it could have spilled over into maudlin self-indulgence. Instead, it was truly heartbreaking, not least because of a tour de force display of acting by Nigel Betts.
Knots, by Lawrence Giltrow-Shaw, featured the sort of plotting that should guarantee him a rewarding future in the theatre – pandemic permitting, of course. His tale of how a particularly harrowing suicide brings together and then shatters the lives of his three protagonists was not only wonderfully constructed but also emotionally truthful.
There were fine performances by Jamie O’Neill and Culture Clash founders Serin Ibrahim and Cassandra Hercules. Unfortunately, the production’s Zoom structure sometimes diluted its power by creating a mood-breaking staccato effect that broke up its natural rhythm.
Greg told how three musketeers became two on a boozy night out in Liverpool. The ending was a tad predictable but the journey to reach it was excellent, with many neat touches by writer Aga Serugo-Lugo and perfectly balanced performances by Adam Karim and Esmonde Cole.
Baked Beans was described by writer Sid Sagar as a work in progress and was presented as an actor auditioning for the part of a man with a South Indian background trying to fit in to British society and essentially living a lie to do so. Hamza Jeetooa was terrific as the man struggling with his conscience but the rather knowing interruptions of his soliloquies by a production assistant, technical glitches and later the director himself became a distraction from the play’s important central point.
Finally, Marcella Hudson’s A Millennial Tale was a satire on millennial angst. It was nicely done. But in a world currently run by an array of louts, gangsters, blusterers and incompetents fictional satire has been rendered almost redundant by self-parodying reality.
Voices In The Dark is available on Greenwich Theatre’s YouTube channel till 2 August. More details at https://greenwichtheatre.org.uk/voices-in-the-dark/