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Dirty Protest

Curated by Chloe Moss
Dirty Protest Theatre
Camden Roundhouse, London
(2009)

To a packed audience ten writers presented their short scenes of 'Dirty Protest'. Given the theme 'out with the old' and four weeks, each writer had to create a piece using up to three actors, no longer than ten minutes and no shorter than three minutes. Showcasing an evening of intrigue, playfulness and threat, this was certainly a diverse performance, like a chocolate box that has lost its guide, you really 'never know what you're gonna get'.

Curator Chloe Moss began the evening with her own piece, Peacocks and the awkward situation of how to tell your wife you're a transvestite, delivered with great comic timing by Alex Beckett and Alice Selwyn, setting the audience alight with laughter. Sally Barton's Out With The Old was less successful, depicting an immature band trying to negotiate changing their name. However Lucy Kirkwood's you big beautiful thing, whilst seemingly starting on the familiar ground of a couple breaking up, jumped out of the box to end with an excellent monologue (very well played by Lizzy Watts) describing the young woman's love for London landmark The Gherkin. Caitlin Keogh took the evening to tramp territory with two down and outs in Richman Poor struggling, literally, over money and dark endings. The first half finished with a bang in Rebecca Lenkiewicz's On loan as an American mistress made use of the hand gun her married lover had lent her.

The second half began with a fascinating atmosphere of intrigue and the past catching up with a new convert to Islam, in Takudzwa Dzinwasha's The Twisted Nerve. Chris Thorpe's untitled piece was next, presenting a son being persuaded to try a new innovative therapy on his ill father, followed by Melissa Manteghi's Humbug where two Yorkshire sisters chose an appropriate send off for their dead, hateful father. This was certainly one of the most impactful pieces of the evening for me, and one of the most memorable, simply staged and directed by Mared Swain. The evening finished with a tale of eugenics and a grieving couple trying to recreate their lost daughter, powerfully acted by Sian Williams in the role of the mother. As a rehearsed reading the evening's actors are to be commended, with Alex Beckett and Lizzy Watts standing out as notable talents.

Love them or hate them, evenings of new writing cannot fail to stir reaction. Whilst there may have been a few less in the audience after the interval, there are certainly some emerging writers here who will make their mark in the future. Already successful in Cardiff, Dirty Protest combining with the new writers tutored at the Roundhouse made a good start to their presence in London, creating some sparky theatre of the moment. But the big question is: which would we have like to have seen more of? Established writer Chloe Moss' Peacocks grabbed the audience from the start, and Takudzwa Dzinwasha created a mouth wateringly tantalising scene which set out many questions, answering none and definitely left us wanting more. Melissa Manteghi managed to balance delicate humour and profoundity on the subject of abuse and Rebecca Lenkiewicz's On Loan made dark beginnings. Skins' writer Lucy Kirkwood's monologue worked well, and one can only wonder where her architectural love story might go!

The evening progressed to a kebab house near the Roundhouse (which sadly this reviewer was unable to attend) and one can only wonder whether Dirty Protest will manage to 'start a riot' as their website writes they aspire to.

Reviewer: Sacha Voit