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Review: random (Leeds Playhouse)

The 2008 monologue from debbie tucker green is revived by Leeds Playhouse as part of their pop up line-up

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Kiza Deen in random
© Anthony Robling

A remarkable, measured performance by Kiza Deen grips the audience in random, a 2008 monologue by debbie tucker green which has been revived this year for the Leeds Playhouse pop up season.

Carrying the piece with only BSL interpreter Keren Seabrook for company stage-side, she enjoys and commands a wide stage area in Leeds, playing the four major characters, Mum, Dad, Sister and Brother (and the rest) in a gently devastating monologue. You have to hand it to Deen, she nails the form, surely one of the most challenging assignments for any actor. With no other onstage presence to bounce off, she creates all the energy and controls the pace and tone immaculately.

So much with monologues where one actor plays multiple roles depends on the skill of the creative team to help the actor delineate. Here, Chloe Kenward and Christopher Nairne added great touches to Deen's work with lighting, subtly gracing characters with their own hints of colour.

We begin with a British family of West Indian heritage who are embarking on a banal morning routine. We know exactly who Deen is playing by virtue of simple gestures she employs, ways of standing and moving and well judged differences in accent. It's obvious enough yet subtle too.

Despite such heavy subject matter later in the play, there is humour at the start. Each person in the family seems pretty hacked off with the other; a sister is hounded to wake up by her mother who is burning the porridge; a sleeping brother is showing no signs of surfacing and an impassive father seems to be keeping out of it. Whatever anyone says to the other is shot down somehow, it's how close knit families operate.

Half way through the day everything goes wrong after a vicious, violent attack. The aftermath is explored firstly as the family visit the scene of the crime where the media are interested in a ‘good urban story' and where locals pay their respects almost as voyeurs, making insensitive statements.

We are then at home, later the same day, and there is a fine end scene in which we are left to consider a shocking reversal which hits on something we can all relate to: that we do go through the motions with people we love, never thinking about the possibility that in an instant, they could be lost to us forever.

At a mere 45 minutes in length there might have been room to give Deen free rein to delve even further into some of the really profound moments, particularly the private reactions of the family in the aftermath.

So it's short, taut and moving but certainly worth your time

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