Far removed from its origins at the Royal Court in Sloane Square, Random is now playing at an unoccupied unit in the unglamorous Elephant and Castle shopping centre; a setting that lends itself remarkably well to this raw and touching play depicting a momentous day in one family’s daily grind.
There’s nothing patronising about this project that takes plays into unexpected settings around London, making it accessible to those who might never have made the journey to Chelsea to see it the first time round. And there’s nothing more unexpected than queuing up opposite Price Mark when most shops are shut, choosing a seat from the assortment of chairs and sofas that are scattered round this would-be shop, and being drawn into this intense world; a whirlpool of family dynamics and an uneasy pull towards a tragedy that the audience know is looming.
All four main characters in this family are played by the exceptional Seroca Davis, who pings around the family like a pinball, using different voices and mannerisms to assume the different roles. She storms in through the shop doors, Adidas-clad and indignant, then launches into the exhausting chatter that leads us from alarm call in the morning through the fateful day.
The language is highly colloquial, jagged, colourful and utterly convincing. At no point is the format overwhelming or off-putting, even when the characters are conversing. Rather, we are privy to each character’s thoughts as well as their interactions. Their observations and thoughts often mirror and echo each other, signalling the invisible yet strong bonds between them.
Despite the reassuring monotony of their morning routine and the endearing spats where fussing love clashes against typical teenagedom - “Laters, Mum”, the son volunteers, as he slopes off to school – there is a feeling of foreboding from the off: “This ent a morning to be peaceful. There’s somethin in the air, ” the sister comments. The day feels shadowy and sinister despite the watery sun and the birds cheeping outside their home.
Given the format, the plot is purposefully simple, but this in no way detracts from the razor sharp portrayal of a family devastated by a random event. This is an intense and powerful nugget of a play. I’d never have expected to find something so rich and raw in a shopping centre.
- Christina Bracewell