Desperate Measures: Below the Breadline

Simply See Productions

C cubed

From 06 August 2015 to 15 August 2015

Rating: ***

Review by Keith Mckenna

There is a romantic optimism running through the play Desperate Measures: Below the Breadline. It doesn’t shy away from the difficulties facing its characters but it does carry the conviction that they can and will make their circumstances better.

In a series of brief, thoughtful scenes that have been devised by the company, we see the way low pay of care workers and others or even the absence of pay for those who work as interns generates anxieties among young people in London.

It also puts pressure on the choices they are able to make. Sometimes it forces compromises they would rather not make.

A young couple face the dilemma of a sudden unplanned pregnancy that comes long before they feel they will be financially secure. A young man who has a secret about his own sexuality is deeply bothered when his boss makes homophobic comments. A tube worker takes pride in being able to quickly repair faulty equipment but remains unrecognised for his ability. Instead he is shouted at by commuters who blame him for any breakdown.

The lives of the characters played in consistently good performances by a large cast intersect at bus stops, tube station platforms, and cafes. A set formed of huge boxes is used to evoke the strangeness of a city landscape.

Occasionally the main scenes of prose dialogue are broken by a woman stepping forward to speak a poetic monologue of hope that, despite everything, it is possible to create a different world.