Kings Arms, Salford
Apart from Parliamentarians, who must be wide-eyed innocents, most people responded to the revelation Boris Johnson told lies with a weary, "well, duh". One cannot help but worry the same cynical response might be provoked by Emily Hunter’s play Enough which examines the culture of misogyny, sexism and predatory behaviour towards members of the public and female colleagues which persists across many UK police forces today.
Irie Dayton (Riah Amelle) is a new police officer and determined to make a positive difference. She is partnered with Christine Dash (author Emily Hunter) who treats the role of police officer as just a job which can be left at the end of the working day and is anxious to avoid the pub culture associated with the work. Sergeant Toni Spence (Gemma Green) is, however, ambitious, willing to bend the rules and expects other officers on the team to do likewise. A clash between the different attitudes seems inevitable.
There is a strong emphasis on authenticity. The cast wear stab-proof vests and acronyms—SOCO and SA—are dropped regularly; knew watching Line of Duty would have benefits. Although advance publicity draws attention to misogynistic behaviour, there are only two overt examples: an unsympathetic interview with an alleged rape victim and possible sexual overtures by a senior officer. Author Emily Hunter takes the view we have become so inured to corruption, we let it go unchallenged. The author instead argues any sleaze is too much, and all examples contribute to an environment in which the rules are flaunted on a regular basis.
Enough is a short play with a lot to say and inevitably, the characters slide towards types. There is an eager newcomer, a world-weary veteran and an ambitious, slimy boss. The revelation Christine Dash is a recovering alcoholic comes out of nowhere. One imagines the audience is meant to relate to the idealist Irie Dayton, but she is something of a school swot. Christine Dash, on the other hand, who would not see herself as corrupt but accepts moral compromises and looks the other way or engages in sleaze for the sake of an easier life, is easier to understand.
An awareness of how cases will be assessed in court results in a system whereby interviews with complainants / victims of sex offences are closer to interrogations and appear to blame the victims, who are quizzed about their sex / social life. It can be perceived as a neutral approach and would probably apply if the complaint goes to court, but could act as a deterrent to complainants and certainly lacks sympathy.
It is possible to read too much into plays and, in the age of gender-blind casting, wondered, as the names Chris and Toni could be both male and female, if the female actors are playing male characters (the programme says otherwise as the full names are definitely female). Yet, there are occasional hints with phrases like "ugly bitch" which women are unlikely to use and Gemma Green adopting a ‘one of the lads’ physical swagger.
Director Kitty Ball is, however, ahead of me with an excellent coup de théâtre which concludes the play showing the extent to which toxic attitudes have become common in the police service regardless of gender.
Enough returns to the GM Fringe on 19 July 2023 at Kings Arms, Salford
Reviewer: David Cunningham