Tuesday, May 28

Protest – Traverse Theatre

“This is a girl”. Three primary seven girls seek to address injustice in their everyday lives. Inspired by previous generations of women, they begin to find their voices.

As soon as I saw the set, I just wanted to play on it. Amy Jane Cook’s design invites spontaneous, joyful movement. There is a winding path for the girls to run around, curved frames to climb and swing on, and platforms to rest, spin and jump on.  The actresses are adults, but their performances are so convincing that it is easy to forget this. Movement director Nadia Iftkar has done an amazing job, and the girls move playfully, running with arms outstretched one minute, sitting cross legged and fidgeting the next.  They beautifully capture the delight in movement that characterises childhood. The costumes, also designed by Cook, complete the effect.

Photo: Ali Wright

The playwright, Hannah Lavery, is also a poet and her use of words and images is breathtaking.  Jade (Harmony Rose Bremner) says that her Nanna described her skin tone as sun-dappled, and this is echoed in the dappled lighting during Chloe’s scenes (Amy Murphy) set in a local woodland.

Alice (Kirsty McLaren) is the fastest runner in her class, but Miss wants to give the prestigious “anchor” spot on the relay team to a boy. Her mum encourages her to take a stand.  Jade’s Great Nanna came to Britain from Jamaica to serve in the WAAF, and stayed to help rebuild the country after WW2, but Jade’s history lessons only mention the contribution of white people. In the present day, Jade experiences racist bullying, and her bike is vandalised. Chloe loves to draw the wildlife in the woods, and wants to be a writer, artist and environmentalist like Beatrix Potter, but she’s overwhelmed by the scale of the threat to our natural environment.  Gradually, the girls find ways to draw attention to the issues affecting them, and the set fills up with their marks as they learn to take up space – feathers, leaves, chalk drawings, winding lines and the slogan Be Kind.

Initially the girls’ acts of protest take place in parallel, but they begin to inspire each other, as well as their wider community.  Through small gestures, they are able to make a real difference.

Traverse 1 was busy and there were a few youngsters in the audience.  I hope that they will be inspired by the young characters and find ways to make positive changes in their own communities.

Reviewer: Wendy McEwan

Reviewed: 27th January 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.