Australian neurodiverse theatre company Back to Back bring The Shadow Whose Prey the Hunter Becomes to Battersea Arts Centre
“We don’t speak a different language”
In the beautiful Grand Hall of Battersea Arts Centre, we’ve been invited to town hall meeting in Geelong, Australia. Sarah Mainwaring, Simon Laherty and Scott Price are three disabled activists who want tackle the way that people with learning disabilities have been treated by society – highlighting the injustices of the past in the hope of illuminating a way to a better future.
But The Shadow Whose Prey the Hunter Becomes shows us just how difficult that can be, as the complexities even of just identifying what those injustices really are are thrown up from the off. They squabble whilst putting out chairs, mansplaining and a little mockery of indigenous culture goes on but as we chortling along with them, we’re confronted with the hypocrisy in our laughter, the complicity in our behaviour, unthinking as it may be.
Bruce Gladwin’s production continues in this thorny vein, pushing us to consider or reconsider a wide range of issues – how the impact of historical abuse lingers too easily into the present day, how deep-rooted discrimination against the disabled is, sexual politics, power dynamics, the nature of identity and how blanket terms like ‘the disabled’ (that I just used) help no-one and cover up a multitude of idosyncratic humans.
The devised scripts contains humour as well as much thought-provoking matter, particularly where stereotypes are concerned, and its power leaps from the stage. There’s also an intriguing fourth character of sorts too, the AI that is producing the show’s surtitles, literally producing them as it edits and challenges the voices of the performers, exploring the role that it plays in representing (or not) their words and what it means to surrender that power.
The type of show that lingers long in the mind.