Review: random, Royal Court

debbie tucker green’s one-woman show random is a 50 minute tale of an everyday black family whose lives are torn apart by a random act with tragic consequences. Performed by Nadine Marshall on the Royal Court’s main stage, she holds the attention effortlessly with a stunning performance of great intensity.

Marshall takes us through all the family members, Brother, Sister, Mum and Dad, in a witty opening sequence full of domestic idiosyncracies, finding much humour in the mundane and fleshing out all four characters well before tragedy hits and the ugly spectre of knife crime rears its head. From here, Sister comes to the fore as the voice of grief, stricken with emotion at the brutality of the crime the injustice of the world that keeps on turning despite their loss.

But for the bravura performance, the show clearly has its limitations in its format: it is necessarily extremely descriptive and despite the amazing efforts of Marshall, there’s no denying the fact that it felt more like an epic poem or indeed a showcase, than a real piece of drama: it felt wrong to call this a play as we grabbed a drink afterwards in the bar.

And whilst tucker green clearly has a point to make, the way in which she draws the lines of engagement rings hollow: the police and media are all bad, the innocence of the victim overstated, so that the sense of realism that has been carefully built up is sadly lost through the unnecessary weight of prejudice (or perhaps as a white man, there’s something I missed here?): she has fun in portraying and playing with cultural stereotypes in so many ways, that it just highlighted the lack of balance once we moved out of the domestic setting.

So ultimately I was impressed rather than truly engaged, not 100% convinced this was the right place for it, but an important message that deserves to be heard nonetheless.

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