Theatre Review: Random at The Leeds Playhouse’s Pop-Up Theatre

Award-winning one-woman show, Random, makes its Northern debut in The Playhouse’s Pop-Up Theatre where Leo Owen caught the show

Ten years on since its first performance, BAFTA and Olivier award-winning writer debbie tucker green’s one-woman play is just as poignant. Detailing a day in the life of a West Indian household, each family member is skilfully and seamlessly brought to life by Kiza Deen’s (Hollyoaks, Channel 4; Silent Witness, BBC) shifts in mannerism and cultural dialect.

Through a patchwork of narratives recalling in minutiae events spanning 24 hours, tucker green convincingly depicts both the old and young in her beautifully-scripted one act play. Placing the older sister as narrator, tucker green deliberately flips media perceptions and cultural stereotypes surrounding knife crime, humanising the victim, who in random, is no longer merely a newsworthy statistic but one of the loved and lost, acutely grieved.

Max Johns’s sparse set perhaps reflects the singularity of grief, littering the rear of the stage with mismatched chairs randomly piled high like a metaphorical wall of grief or a barricade against the supportive but prying community. This is effectively complemented by simple light changes to signify vocal switches and solemn music that marks the fragmented and emotionally charged reveal.

The fourth British black woman to ever have a film distributed in the UK, tucker green taps into a generation, giving voice to those directly affected by knife crime and questioning a mass media culture that unquestioningly allows the rapid spread of images and commentaries surrounding personal family tragedies. Intimately and poetically exploring denial, grief, loss, heartache and the spaces left behind, random boasts a powerful performance and will leave viewers reeling.

Random shows at The Leeds Playhouse November 4-16 February:

by Leo Owen