Friday, December 9

Ruckus – Southwark Playhouse

Written and performed by Jenna Fincken, Ruckus is a single-act, one-woman performance that narrates the aging of a toxic relationship. The play brings to life the experience of being with a coercive partner and interrogates the subjectivity of consent in a relationship.

There are many parallels between ‘Ruckus’ and the iconic ‘A Doll’s House’ by Henrik Ibsen. Just as Torvald creates a Doll house for Nora Helmer, in Ruckus the protagonist moves in with her partner in a beachouse that she had always dreamt of.

Just as A doll’s House contemplates the fracture of this house by Nora’s departure, Ruckus explores the fracture in the architecture of a house built on shallow foundations.

The protagonist continues to pity and continues to live through the thicks of her relationship. But during the play, one wonders, wouldn’t it be more conflicting if her reasons for continuing the relationships are not just social or coerced but also driven by small moments of love, compassion that sustain within every relationship?

Even though we only hear the voice of Matthew Durkan, the play seems to document his character more than that of the protagonist. The decision to not have him present is befitting in more than one way. It offers us a distance from his subjectivities. It gives us a chance to immerse ourselves into the world of our protagonist, a primary school teacher who intends to not harm her relationship and sticks out for them through painstaking experiences.

The stage was set in a traverse. The play has an interesting design that speaks to modern scenographic sensibilities. The projector could have done much more than indicating time. It could have acted as an hourglass of sand. Showing each moment and its significance in in time. The play used an interesting way of moving from one scene to another, it was the protagonist’s body causing the change. However, it would have been interesting to see the projection affect her reflexively. The tempo of change was uniform. The light design is very comprehensive and original. It seems that the colours for each scene were picked after much thought and deliberation. Directed by Georgia Green, the play is technically sound, but it seems that a similar rigour was missing on text.

The first scene is very successful in immediately bringing the audience into the act. However, once we are introduced to the conflict, it does not travel much into the audience’s head. It ends where it is anticipated, it would lead. This comes with the inert challenge of a mono-act, it needs a lot of body work. The protagonist has a tendency to over use her hands in conversation, so maybe, the intent of the character could have been in their hands in moments of deep introspection? Maybe then they could talk with the actions instead of words? It is a challenging piece to execute for which the Wildcards team deserves high praise. Ruckus is playing at the Southwark Playhouse until 29th October 2022.

Reviewer: Akshay Raheja

Reviewed: 9th October 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★