“Forget how to sit, that’s all we have to do”
I was introduced to Hobo Theatre earlier this year with their production of Hunger set in a bakery but The Hundred We Are sees them occupy a more traditional theatre space at the Yard in Hackney Wick. This award-winning play by Swedish writer Jonas Hassen Khemiri, translated here by Frank Perry, is a bit of a challenge though as three women sift through their memories and experiences, asking questions about the many different lives that we can and do live, and also pondering those that we do not choose.
For the trio, named enigmatically 1, 2 and 3, are all at different stages in the life of a woman and discuss, debate, disagree and engage in dialogue with each other, restating and rebuilding the personal history that makes them who they are, or even who she is. As fragments of the same person, Ida Bonnast’s fresh and fiery young’un, Katherine Manner’s brittle, dissatisfied middle-aged misery, and Karen Archer’s pragmatic voice of experience tussle and tug against each other, only slowly realising how much they need each other.
It’s an intriguing concept but one which doesn’t really work here I’m afraid. Moments of real emotion such as the euphoric rush experienced whilst travelling the world are few and far between as a po-faced angst ends up dominating much of the discourse, the gravitas of the whole affair horrendously overstated to the point where so much rape and attempted suicide is packed into the first quarter of an hour that it’s a heavy heart that realises that we’re barely a fifth of the way through the show.
Perry captures some of Khemiri’s poetic grace but it does feel like Jamie Harper’s direction pushes the show a little too firmly in the literal direction, limiting the imaginative possibilities of this split self which only fitfully splutters into effective life.