Watch: Dirty Butterfly @ The Young Vic

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Last night I took myself on a date. A bit of background here; I'd realised my theatre game was slipping considerably and tweeted for suggestions of what to see. Someone recommended Dirty Butterfly at the Young Vic...but it was sold out, my only option was to turn up and go on the reserve list. So yesterday I took myself down to The Young Vic, popped myself on the reserve list and tucked into a soft shell crab burger while waiting an hour and half to find out if I could even watch the show!
It was a very last minute thing so I knew people wouldn't generally be free and also I didn't really want to drag friends down there if I couldn't 100% guarantee we would even see the show. So I dated myself and boy am I glad I did!

I got in...just. I was the last person on the reserve list to slip through, even a lovely actor pal David Ajala was turned away, along with many others. I took my seat but I was not prepared for what I was about to see. The show ran at 65 minutes with no interval and I left feeling physically battered; it is such a powerful and visceral piece of theatre.

Written by debbie tucker green and orginally performed in 2003 at the Soho Theatre, this production was directed by Tinuke Craig, the Genesis Future Directors Award winner, who I used to attend the National Theatre youth group with when I was about 14. Brilliant to see her flying like this.

Jason (played by Anthony Welsh) can hear his neighbour Jo (Seline Hizli) through his wall, and so he stays up all night listening. Their neighbour Amelia (Estella Daniels) can hear too, that's why she sleeps downstairs on her sofa now. They play looks at voyeurism and that strange notion we have around domestic violence sometimes of 'not wanting to get involved'. Because one thing that is clear is that Jo is being hideously and regularly physically violated by her husband.

debbie tucker green uses a lryical writting style for working class characters, both Jo and Amelia sound distinctly South London to my ear and the staccato, overlapping rhythmic speech, particularly at the beginning, are spliced with second generation West Indian phrases and speech patterns from Amelia. The characters say all the things that they wished they had said to each other, the things they should have said, the things they wanted to say...

In the second scene the carpets are rolled up to reveal the pristine tiled floor of the cafe that Amelia works in. Hyemi Shin has done a brilliant job of creating a stark clinical white of the floor and lower walls versus a bland brown of the rest of the set; the boringness of reality. The white floors are soon awash with red blood and regret.

tucker green has created beautifully flawed characters. Jason, a stuttering man unable to bring himself to really help; we are sure that he wants to but Jo often hints that his voyeurism has more pervy motives. Amelia presents as harsh and disconnected in all that she says but her actions never quite follow up, she can't be unaffected by what she knows. And Hizli excels as Jo, we pity her but she is not a weak, beaten character; she snarls at and ridicules Jason, aggravates Amelia and slinks or crawls across the stage with a combination of sensuality, depravity and turmoil I was amazed to see all in one actor. Genuinely inspired me to up my acting levels.

Dirty Butterfly only shows until this Saturday the 11th, but if you can get down there and put your name on that reserve list..cross every finger and toe and hope you get in. Well worth it.

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