An urgent new play by debbie tucker green. Recent productions by debbie tucker green and...… Read more
By debbie tucker green
On Tour 1 - 26 June 2010
Tickets: Please see individual venues websites for information on ticket prices.
“Two piece a Police cars
park outside our yard
right outside our yard.
For all to see. For all to know.”
Unwelcome visitors. Unwelcome news.
A family wake up to a normal day. By lunchtime, one random act has changed everything.
Please see individual venues websites for information on ticket prices and start times.
1 June – 5 June
Birmingham Rep, The Door
0121 236 4455
8 June – 12 June
Bristol Old Vic, Studio
0117 987 7877
15 June – 19 June
Sheffield Theatres, Studio
0114 249 6000
22 June – 26 June
The Albany, Deptford
020 8692 4446
Listen to the podcast including excerpts, Director’s commentary and audience response
Listen to the Front Row review of random from BBC Radio 4
Listen to journalist David Aaronovich, novelist Catherine O’Flynn and writer/critic Susan Jeffreys give their views on random on Radio 4’s Saturday Review
Select a Date
Dates in June
|Tue 1 Jun 2010||7:00pm||The Birmingham Repertory Theatre|
|Wed 2 Jun 2010||7:00pm||The Birmingham Repertory Theatre|
|Thu 3 Jun 2010||7:00pm||The Birmingham Repertory Theatre|
|Fri 4 Jun 2010||7:00pm||The Birmingham Repertory Theatre|
|Sat 5 Jun 2010||2:00pm||The Birmingham Repertory Theatre|
|Sat 5 Jun 2010||7:00pm||The Birmingham Repertory Theatre|
|Tue 8 Jun 2010||8:00pm||Bristol Old Vic|
|Wed 9 Jun 2010||8:00pm||Bristol Old Vic|
|Thu 10 Jun 2010||8:00pm||Bristol Old Vic|
|Fri 11 Jun 2010||8:00pm||Bristol Old Vic|
|Sat 12 Jun 2010||2:00pm||Bristol Old Vic|
|Sat 12 Jun 2010||8:00pm||Bristol Old Vic|
|Tue 15 Jun 2010||7:45pm||Sheffield Theatres|
|Wed 16 Jun 2010||7:45pm||Sheffield Theatres|
|Thu 17 Jun 2010||7:45pm||Sheffield Theatres|
|Fri 18 Jun 2010||7:45pm||Sheffield Theatres|
|Sat 19 Jun 2010||2:00pm||Sheffield Theatres|
|Sat 19 Jun 2010||7:45pm||Sheffield Theatres|
|Tue 22 Jun 2010||7:30pm||The Albany|
|Wed 23 Jun 2010||7:30pm||The Albany|
|Thu 24 Jun 2010||7:30pm||The Albany|
|Fri 25 Jun 2010||7:30pm||The Albany|
|Sat 26 Jun 2010||3:00pm||The Albany|
|Sat 26 Jun 2010||7:30pm||The Albany|
Sold out Performances
Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard, 9.3.10
Violence Comes Knocking in Random
The Elephant and Castle shopping centre is often identified as the ugliest building in London. It has few admirers, and its demolition scheduled for 2012 is eagerly anticipated. For the time being, though, this sullen monolith remains, and while its amenities are obviously useful, it exudes an air of tired grubbiness.
For a six-month period the Royal Court has taken over one of its vacant units, as part of an initiative called Theatre Local. The idea is to inject theatre into communities, opening up the Courts work to a wider audience than usually graces its Sloane Square home.
The season opens with this fine revival of debbie tucker greens random. (Like the American polemicist bell hooks, tucker green deliberately eschews capital letters because its the text rather than the author or title that matters.)
This is a short, involving drama about the grotesque arbitrariness of violent crime, in which a single performer plays all four members of a family plus an array of other characters.
The noises of the shopping centre children cavorting screechily, snatches of banter, the odd ominous metallic clang provide a fitting backdrop to what begins as an account of everyday life in an unremarkable black British household.
Then, just as were attuned to this ordinariness, the gauzy skin of normality is ruptured by tragedy.
The characters are sharply drawn by tucker green, with not a word wasted. There are moments of brilliant, dirt-streaked poetry I found myself thinking of the more rasping bits of TS Eliot and Seroca Daviss interpretation is captivating in its conviction and its subtlety.
Davis perfectly evokes both the smug sourness of a teenage boy turning up late at school and the disgust of his sister when confronted by his ripe body odour. Theres much, much more in this vein, as she modulates skilfully between a variety of other tones and registers.
The unambiguous temporariness of the pop-up performance space creates a naked intimacy that serves tucker greens writing well, and Sacha Waress spare production has an excellent sense of pace. While it took me a few minutes to get used to randoms often briskly abrasive language, its authenticity is palpable, and the story unfolds vividly.
On present evidence, the Royal Courts Theatre Local project has legs and teeth.
3 stars Lyn Gardner, The Guardian, 10.3.10
It is hard to think of a more suitably potent play than Debbie Tucker Green’s 2008 knife-crime monologue with which to christen the Royal Court’s new pop-up theatre, in a formerly empty unit in a south London shopping centre. As the narrator wakes to “birds bitchin their birdsong outside” and another ordinary day in an ordinary life, from outside you can hear the sound of people going about their lives, their shadows occasionally drifting across the windows as if real life is trying to invade the intimate theatre space.
This powerful, poetic and often comic play doesn’t waste a word as it tells of a West Indian family who believe you should “never trouble trouble until trouble troubles you” only to find it sitting in their front room, in the shape of three policeman bearing bad news.
Tucker Green is fantastic at capturing the minutiae of everyday life, as well as the way, when tragedy shatters the workaday routine, you often remember the details of the moments before and after. The burned porridge; the empty carton of juice; the dark boots on the best carpet; the “brazen baby women” at the crime scene; the instant shrine that springs up with “proper flowers, not no garage shit”. The subject matter may be unsurprising and the monologue form limiting, but the story is told so vividly and freshly that the 50 minutes pack a genuine punch. Seroca Davis is excellent, flipping between the many roles with ease, and this fleeting evening offers a heartfelt riff on grief and loss.
4 stars Ian Shuttleworth, Financial Times, 14.3.10
random, Elephant and Castle shopping centre, London
The Royal Court takes outreach seriously. Over the next six months or so, it will be staging four plays in an otherwise empty retail unit in the Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre, an unlovely 1960s-built lump hard by a major south London junction. Enter through the upper-ground floor doors by the Tube station and there next to the advice centre, opposite PriceMark, diagonally opposite to the Polish cafe is the Courts Theatre Local, its windows papered over, filled with an assortment of chairs and sofas.
The next three shows will transfer straight from the Courts Theatre Upstairs programme, but the season begins with a revival of debbie tucker greens [sic] 2008 play random [sic again], about the sudden and unforeseen impact of knife crime on a London family.
When I reviewed the play on its premiere, I was impressed by its move away from what had previously struck me as self-conscious over-writing on tucker greens part; this revival by original director Sacha Wares confirms that impression. Actor Seroca Davis enters through the main doors, dressed casually in a green tracksuit top, and stands in the light from a couple of unfussy spots to deliver the 50-minute solo piece. She shifts between the characters of a Brother, Sister, Mum and Dad with slight changes of posture, vocal register and accent, but nothing ostentatious. It is entirely in keeping with an account of what is an utterly ordinary day Sister in her office drudgery, Brother dawdling to school, Mother shopping until the family are apprised piecemeal of an event at lunchtime that has left Brother lying in a police morgue. The low-key yet entirely focused performance by Davis competes with, and effortlessly overcomes, noises from the concourse outside, exactly the kind of banal socialising that had earlier been recounted in the play.
In another play currently on the London fringe, a far-right politician character remarks that public debate about knife crime is code for Were frightened of black people. There is a danger of portraying this play, in this venue, as taking the subject matter closer to its natural constituency in a patronising, slumming-it way. However, the overall season programming and the Courts already obvious commitment show what a lazy assumption this would be. (4 star rating)
4 stars Sam Marlowe, Time Out, 16.3.10
Debbie Tucker Green’s writing is so raw and immediate that it can feel as if she’s hacking into your heart with a rusty opener. This 2008 50-minute monologue, directed by Sacha Wares for the Royal Court’s Theatre Local in a unit in the scuzzy, sodium-lit Elephant and Castle shopping centre, is typically merciless. Seroca Davis, small and slight in a tracksuit, speaks a family’s thoughts and feelings on the day of a random murder. Their humdrum morning routines intersect until the son’s voice is silenced, and the daughter returns from work to find police drinking tea in her parents’ front room.
The rest is a deluge of rage, pain, disbelief, official platitudes and media insensitivity, as the grief-stricken gather where the boy was stabbed, and a pile of tributes grows – a stack of ‘Black-on-black love’. It’s a visceral glimpse of the emotional flipside of reports of urban knife crime, if Tucker Green’s play is restricted by it’s form and avoids analysis, its power is undeniable. Her vivid language is rigourously attentive to the detail of the everyday and ordinary, and the bustle outside the shopfront adds to the context of mundanity in which tragedy can occur. This isn’t totally achieved theatre, but it could scarcely be more intense.4 stars Dominic Maxwell, The Times, 10.3.10
random at the Elephant and Castle shopping centre, SE1
Royal Court artistic director Dominic Cooke has long wanted to take his shows to an audience that wouldn’t choose to go to Sloane Square. And now, after a trial run here a couple of years ago, the Court has taken over a disused shop Unit 215-216 in this shopping centre for Theatre Local, a season of six shows over the next six months.
Tickets are cheap, no more than £8. Staging is bare-bones. Those first in the queue get to sit around the playing area on sofas; the rest are on chairs farther back. For this first show, a revival of the 2008 play by the lower-case-loving debbie tucker green, the local flavour is appropriate.
This area has been the site of too many teenage deaths from knife crime, and tucker greens pared back, vivid vehicle for one black actress depicts the innocent prelude to and disbelieving aftermath of the murder of a black teenager. It’s the right fit of story and setting.
True, the location has its drawbacks. After the shop doors close behind Seroca Davis, small and intense, you can still hear the hubbub from outside. And as Davis jumps from playing the main character, the daughter, to her blithe brother and their sarcastic West Indian mum, you have to focus to catch every nuance of tucker greens poetry. She doesnt just give us chirruping, she gives us Birds bitchin their birdsong outside.
But as it goes on, Sacha Wares simple, strong production makes the outside noise fade away. Davis is excellent. Direct but not brittle, she tilts her head, alters her tone and now shes playing the dad, now playing one of the policemen who anger him by offering to make him tea in his own home. We stay on the outside of the violence to soak in the mundane details that follow it. The sweetness of the tea. The memories of the Coke and crisps breakfast that the brother loved. The sympathy of friends. Tragedy is an absence, not a flurry of rage.
Its a short play, idiomatic, poetic, lean. And after it leaves here it will still draw audiences as it plays in studio theatres around England.