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Review Theatre: Random resonance at a time when knife killings are on the rise

Random Leeds Playhouse

CENTRING on one day and one pivotal event — a fatal stabbing — Debbie Tucker Green’s Random certainly is up-to-the moment as knife-crime statistics continue to rise.

In its single act, it skilfully manipulates emotions and challenges media stereotypes as it explores how an ordinary family deals with grief.

Kiza Deen (pictured) performs all of the roles in a patchwork of narratives punctuated by regular time checks, including the sassy sister, irritated by her colleagues, and the mother concerned that her family hasn’t eaten and her children are inappropriately dressed.

Directed by Gbolahan Obisesan, the fast-paced street poetry of the opening scenes revels in the minutiae of the humdrum — the “dogs barking the shit out of the neighbourhood” and the house rule not to tread “dark boots and heavy shoes on my carpet.”

Yet this normality is suddenly shattered by news of a random stabbing. The pace of the delivery slows and humour is replaced with confusion as the family tries to grapple with the anxious presence of the police, the intrusion of media “asking foolish questions” and unwelcome  well-wishers.

The fragility of life and the starkness of grief are emphasised by Max Johns’s simple set. A pile of chairs line the back of the stage, either a barrier to the outside community or threatening to crash down as a metaphor for the collapse of ordinary family routine.

The set’s simplicity focuses attention where it matters, humanising the story behind the media portrayal of just another knife crime.

That alone should make it compulsory viewing for all communities seeking more than just a sound-bite solution.

Runs until February 16, box office: leedsplayhouse.org.uk

 

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