Olivier Award-winning playwright debbie tucker green caused a stir on the Southbank in late 2013 with nut. The provocative National Theatre production garnered a great deal of critical attention. References to the tortured playwright Sarah Kane were applied liberally.
New debbie tucker green play, 2015
This summer, tucker green lands at the Royal Court with hang, her third play on the Sloane Square stage. The production, shrouded in mystery, is about a crime, a victim, a criminal and an 'unspeakable decision'. Those familiar with tucker green's work will be pleased to find hang every but as taut and inky, peopled by psychologically fractured characters and pulsing with stark verse as you'd expect from the playwright.
Set in an anonymously Ikea-furnished corporate meeting room, the action centres on a pair of officials in charge of getting a life and death decision from the victim of an unspeakable crime. Crucially the crime itself is indeed never described directly and the audience's curiosity is what propels the somewhat flat drama forward.
The language is rich with clusters of poetry ('her noise, her chatter, her childishness. Her childhood') but instead of inviting us to share in the complex layers that have led to this specific scenario, the play denies the heart of the story. Instead, we are given a brutally detailed account on the different methods of capital punishment available to avenge the crime. It's a smart method of hollowing out the justice system and revealing the curiously impersonal, clinical results of humanity pushed to its limits. But, despite an astonishingly moving performance from Marianne Jean-Baptiste as the victim, we were left feeling dissatisfied.
The show stealer is Marianne Jean-Baptiste, fresh from the second series of Broadchurch: she played defence lawyer Sharon Bishop. As the first a black British actress to be nominated for an Oscar, for her role in Mike Leigh's 1996 drama Secrets & Lies, Jean-Baptiste is unsurprisingly brilliant. Co-stars Shane Zaza and Claire Rushbrook bring out the humour in mechanical office jargon, but it is Jean-Baptiste as a traumatised victim who's taking no prisoners that makes this taut three-hander feel human.
Idris Elba, Oliviers and Baftas: Debbie Tucker Green plays
Tucker Green has been busy. She is currently putting the final touches on her debut film Second Coming, which stars Idris Elba, hotly tipped as the next James Bond, and is released later this year. In the twelve years since her first work dirty butterfly debuted, tucker green has written ten plays and built a reputation as a fierce, frenetic writer. The Olivier Award was for Best Newcomer, for born bad in 2003. 2008's random earned her a BAFTA.
To judge her plays as concerned with 'black experience' alone is to do them a disservice. tucker green has a poetic voice, an ear for dialogue and keen eye for detail. As a result, her plays talk about humanity, rather than race.
|hang, Royal Court
|Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, London, SW1W 8AS | MAP
|Sloane Square (underground)
11 Jun 15 – 18 Jul 15, 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM
|Click here to book via The Royal Court's website