Blurred Lines, The Shed, National Theatre – review

Published: Friday, January 24, 2014 1:40 PM | Review by: Lloyd Lewis-Hayter |
Susannah Wise, Ruth Sheen, Bryony Hannah, Marion Bailey, Michaela Coel, Lorna Brown, Claire Skinner, Sinead Matthews credit Simon Kane l to r Susannah Wise, Ruth Sheen, Bryony Hannah, Marion Bailey, Michaela Coel, Lorna Brown, Claire Skinner, Sinead Matthews credit Simon Kane

Four years ago Kat Barnard wrote The Equality Illusion. That same year she was shortlisted for a Liberty Human Rights Award and named 'the most influential young feminist in the country'.

You won't want it to end as you sit through the whole Blurred Lines with a huge smile on your face wondering why all theatre isn't as undeniably brilliant as this is.


Last year director Carrie Cracknell read the book while rehearsing for her criticality acclaimed production of A Doll's House, giving her the feminist awakening which meant her 21st century audience were able to relate to her version of this1980s feminist play.


Fast forward a few months and here we are at the press night of Blurred Lines. Directed by Carrie and written by Nick Payne, the person who lent her the book, they have already hit the feminist zeitgeist nail on the head with the title.


Susannah Wise, Michaela Coel, Sinead Matthews, Lorna Brown credit Simon Kane l to r Susannah Wise, Michaela Coel, Sinead Matthews, Lorna Brown credit Simon Kane

Workshops based on themes from the book is where all of the play's material was produced, and taking a look at the incredible cast it is not surprising to find it is an absolutely flawless performance.


From the moment the audience file in to the auditorium to a soundtrack featuring Prodigy's Smack my bitch up and Rihanna's Love the way you lie, there is the feeling of something incredibly authentic taking place.


Susannah Wise, Ruth Sheen, Bryony Hannah, Marion Bailey, Michaela Coel, Lorna Brown, Claire Skinner, Sinead Matthews credit Simon Kane l to r Susannah Wise, Ruth Sheen, Bryony Hannah, Marion Bailey, Michaela Coel, Lorna Brown, Claire Skinner, Sinead Matthews credit Simon Kane

There is a brilliant use of rhythm by the whole cast especially in scenes where each character speaks one sentence at a time, sometimes overlapping each other. Hit songs are sarcastically performed evoking the audience to guffaw at the ludicrous lyrics of Lady Gaga's Do What U Want and N.E.R.D's Lapdance.


In one scene Susannah Wise plays a husband attempting to justify his use of prostitutes to his wife as he only uses the ones who 'choose' to sell themselves. Just as horrifyingly outstanding is Marion Bailey's performance as a theatre director defending the necessity for his leading lady to appear in lingerie during a rape scene.


Bryony Hannah, Michaela Coel, Susannah Wise, Sinead Matthews, Lorna Brown, Claire Skinner, Marion Bailey, Ruth Sheen credit Simon Kane l to r Bryony Hannah, Michaela Coel, Susannah Wise, Sinead Matthews, Lorna Brown, Claire Skinner, Marion Bailey, Ruth Sheen credit Simon Kane

Keeping the scenes short and to the point means the realisation that sexism is everywhere is sharp, quick and at moments overwhelming. Refreshingly, Cracknell and Payne prove the feminist play does not need to be harrowing or hard to watch to stir an awakening in its audience members. The running time of 70 minutes feels like just 15, and you won't want it to end as you sit through the whole play with a huge smile on your face wondering why all theatre isn't as undeniably brilliant as this is.


Michaela Coel credit Simon Kane Marion Bailey, Michaela Coel, credit Simon Kane


Info: Blurred Lines is at The Shed, National Theatre until February 22, 2014 | Book tickets


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