There is nothing more satisfying than getting a last minute ticket to the theatre and being totally and utterly bowled over. It was Wednesday morning. No friends. No plans. And my family had tickets to see ‘The Witness’ at The Royal Court Theatre. My brother picked up two for £17.
After a crepe outside in the sun, we strolled over to the theatre. Mum started saying (in her American twang) “Oh my god. There is no-one here. It’s going to be awful. I always bring the boys to awful ones. There isn’t a person here. How does everyone know that it’s going to be so awful’. Blah blah blah. You get the gist. She was being dramatic and we were mocking her.
Now, the Jerwood Theatre at the Royal Court is upstairs, intensely intimate and shows work from upcoming stars in the theatre world. With everything from a transvestite catwalk show to this, it’s a real mix of beauties. Now back to this. The audience are placed tightly around the set, which is a dark room in Hampstead. You surround the stage which I always think really gets you in there. I had forgotten my glasses so was relieved they weren’t a dot in the distance.
The majority of the play is performed by father and daughter. The father a white photography hero and the daughter, a fiesty black girl, rescued from Rwanda. Here secrets unfold, the distance between them grows and a whole world of things happen. Now I know I am a positive person and write continuously enthusiastic reviews but this was, hands down, one of the best plays I have ever seen. Maybe because I wasn’t expecting it. Maybe because the story was intense yet humorous. Maybe because the acting was unbelievable. Or maybe it was because Emily Blunt was in the audience and I vaguely worship her. Either way, our entire family left gobsmacked. This is the second play from Vivienne Franzmann and considering the first one won the 2008 Bruntwood Playwriting Competition, it’s obvious she has got some tricks up her theatrical sleeve.
I have no words. And that is rare.
by Em Bell