Thursday, September 28

Quines Cast Podcast Season Two Launch: RIOT – Traverse Theatre

Disembodied voices snap-chat earnestly. The cast is meritorious. They posit thoughts and summaries upon a serious issue, in this case, RIOT: why riots happen and the impact of rioting. But the disembodied voices are simply sound bites without flesh: skinny starters for discussion rather than a proper, in-depth discourse. If I were one of those bright, energetic, purposeful women who contributed, I’d have shivered to be reduced to a sound bite. But maybe it was ironic? Maybe I missed the point?

The voices felt reminiscent of Loose Women: trite opinions aired for entertainment.

Having said that, I was won over by Jessica Gaitán Johannesson. She read a piece specifically written for RIOT which was measured, thoughtful, factual and gripping. She embodied all the things that women are perfectly capable of being. She spoke with ease and engagement; her thoughts were clear and her introspection valuable to her argument. I wanted more of her. I wanted more of her thoughts. More than an essay. I would have liked to hear her questioned and her ideas and personal take on the concept of rioting and activism explored and expanded.

I love black box theatre, because, usually, the acting is so engrossing that you become oblivious to the visual limitations as you become lost in the interior world of the characters and their relationships. But a black box when there is such a lot of flitting between personnel and none of it given the opportunity to become truly deep, for me, didn’t work. I wasn’t sure where to look when listening to the disembodied voices. Some relevant projection would have given more depth and focus for the audience and for the opinions being expressed.

Maryam Hamidi’s short play was a highlight. The three women who performed were spot on and the content was interesting. Conceptually, it was not original. I immediately thought of the 2019 series, Years and Years. Regardless, the dialogue was swift, believable and entertaining. And the piece was well read by three accomplished actors.

I was delighted by the tone of PAIX’s voice. Whether spoken or sung, her voice is truly beautiful. Once again, though, this artist needs to uncover her unique take on the world. She listed as important to her, all the the things a “woke” member of society ought to care about. Most of us care about compassion and love and many other things besides – so many of us that it is hardly enlightening to say so.

As the theme was RIOT, I would have much rather had a more bolshy, less beautiful, more inventive singer/poet.

The format of Quines Cast is experimental. Well done, Stella Quines. But, please, experiment with gusto and determination. Your followers are bright. Give them some meat with their veg – something to get their teeth into. Scan your audience to check the clapometer of those who aren’t invested. Investigate deeper. Live theatre takes enormous effort. Be athletic. I am willing to concede that some might like “nice” better. It’s just not my thing.

Poet, Joelle Taylor, read from her book. She seemed bitter rather than riotous. If not a riot, it was a protest against stereotyping and for diversity. Watching her read made me think. The poet reminded me of the lovely gay butch woman who cared for my dying father with such humour and tenderness. We are not our bodies. We are our essence. A celebration of that essence could have been riotously funny and quirky. There’s no better way to win over an audience than to make them laugh when they see the bathos (or, inversely, the pathos) of a situation – personal or general.  

The evening was ably hosted by both Stella Quines CEO and Artistic Director, Caitlin Skinner and Hannah Lavery whose down-to-earth and welcoming natures made them perfect for the job.

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Reviewer: Kathleen Mansfield

Reviewed: 25th May 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.