Sun Bear

Sarah Richardson
Sarah Richardson in association with Park Theatre
Park 90, London

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Sarah Richardson as Katy Credit: Jacob Cox
Sarah Richardson as Katy Credit: Jacob Cox
Sarah Richardson as Katy Credit: Jacob Cox

The character Katy, given a clear intense performance by Sarah Richardson, is easily triggered into a ferocious rage about even trivial things that include a co-worker forgetting to bring a pen to work.

She doesn’t just get angry. She turns whatever is irritating her into a generalised outrage against the person who triggered the irritation.

Most of the early section of Katy's monologue concerns her workplace, though we never get to know what the work is. Instead, she talks about the constant irritations of her colleagues who outrageously ask her if she would like to go out with them and even have the cheek to ask if she is okay after she has been sobbing in the work toilet for ages.

Gradually, we realise she is channelling an emotional explosion of long-repressed frustrations at a cruel controlling partner she has finally broken away from.

Management hauls her into their office, gives her a verbal warning and eventually suspends her for the way she is treating others, though they realise that a “break-up” may be the source of the problem.

It is a believable portrayal of a trauma suffered by many women, but its early focus on the symptoms of the abusive relationship that make the victim a difficult person to be around repeats the way we normally encounter such people, sidetracking us from the outrage we should feel at the way they have been treated.

We need to get more quickly to the source of the problem and there needs to be more on the character of Katy and her abusive partner so we are better able to understand the situation.

Although we ought to see her eventual resolve “to never be silenced again” as a very positive, life-affirming prospect for the future, after hearing Katy speak non-stop for sixty minutes about the furious things she has said to others about even the most trivial things, it would be easy to misunderstand that phrase.

Reviewer: Keith Mckenna

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