Crowne Plaza Hotel, Edinburgh
August, 2002

*** Interesting, sensitive but patchy child sexual abuse piece

The best moments in this erratic play and production are not just thought-provoking but resonantly poetic.

Z Theatre Company, from the respected drama department of Hull University, have chosen an ambitious piece and given it a production which sometimes lives up to those ambitions. Set in an anonymous French town, it depicts the repeated rape beginning at age twelve of Agnes by her upright, repressed and repressive father.

The use of three actresses to portray Agnes at various ages works well; there is not a straightforward time line, so members of the trio can observe and interact with each other. The peaks of the writing, such as a horrified but timid prayer by Agnes's mother, are magnificent. The staging includes some haunting, uneasy imagery, like using the mouth of one of the company to symbolise a gynaecological examination. When the piece hits, it hits hard. But it does so only fitfully. The standard of acting is uneven; there are token nods to multimedia presentation, which serve only to distract; the production is hampered by poor sight lines in a sloppily converted hotel function room. Despite it all, though, the production remains worth seeing.

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Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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