THEATRE REVIEW CHALK FARM BY KIERAN HURLEY AND JULIE TAUDEVIN.
Sometimes it seems to me as a nation that there are two different stories being narrated. The commentary and ideology of those in the power and the stories of everyday people caught up in events that are outside their influence. In Chalk Farm the writers KiereanHurlay and Julie Taudevin use the metaphor of a mother and her son to give voices to those who are not usually listened too.
Maggie and her son Jamie live in the High Rises of the Chalk Farm Estate. Maggie promises her young son when they move in this will be a place of safety but as he gets older and looks to find his place in the world she can no longer protect him from the dangers outside. From their flat they describe seeing 7/7 unfold in the city below them where the young seven year old Sean believes he can protect the city. Seven years later in the London Riots he finds himself caught up with his friends on n the streets below. Mirroring a society that no longer have conversations with each other. Maggie and Jamie living under one roof tell their stories with moving and sometimes funny soliloquies of their lives together and apart as a teenage son and mother.
Sean Brown a student of The Royal Conservoitoire of Scotland brought vulnerability and energy to the role of Jamie. The delivery of his dialogue was poetic reminding me of the artist “Tricky” and captured how any young person could get caught up in the riots. He engaged the audience and was the narrator of the crowd, In many ways he personified the crowd. Julie Taudevin as his mother Maggie told her story while calmly making a cheese and pickle sandwich for her “pickle” in a batman sandwich box her last link to the promises she had made to her son that they would be safe there. Her excellent portrayal of a middle aged mum was real and emotional as she reflected her own role as the many mothers demonized by the government after the riots by Cameron’s government.
The joint writing by Hurley and Taudevin who are also real life partners was fluid and flawless. Kieran Hurley when talking about the writing said that they had worked together well, bouncing ideas and words off one another writing different aspect of each character. It was impossible to see which were each of the individual’s writers words.
Chalk Farm is an important piece of theatre about the causes of the riots from a different perspective. It is easy for the government to demonise those involved as the cause rather than looking at the causes. One piece of dialogue from the play criticises Ed Milliband for claiming that he used to walk to school near the area while having no understanding of the community. The play as well as telling us the story of some of those caught up in the riots also presents the voices of those whose property was destroyed in a well balanced way. A beautiful piece of theatre which could be a piece of forum theatre and be used for education. However, I hope will be shown again soon.
Chalk Farm was presented at Oran Mor Glasgow as part of the A Play, a pie and a pint season from Monday 17th September to Saturday September 22cd.