Robert Sonas’ A State Affair is the only play to have been performed in the House of Lords, and with good reason- it has the power and potential to offer a true glimpse of some peoples’ reality and foster change. It is also an impressive example of verbatim theatre: Soans’ conversations with people in and around Bradford in July 2000 have been directly transcribed into a contemporary and engaging piece of theatre.
A State Affair pieces together the fragmented monologues of what can be considered the underbelly of society: seven individuals living on a Bradford council estate, congregating in the ‘Agape House’ community centre. Although fragmented, there is an underlying unity of experience that the characters have all endured, most heart-wrenchingly of all, the breakdown of their relationships with both family and lovers. It has the power to simultaneously shock the audience with stories of crime, drug addiction and sexual abuse, as well as the ability to evoke an emotional identification with the characters.
The characters all seem to be searching for something, whether this be a relationship or even more crudely, a fix. Later this evolves into the desire to bring about positive change in their own lives and in their local community. Throughout, the cast and crew effectively convey the raw emotion while the lighting lends a surreal atmosphere.
To coincide with the play, the cast and crew have also invited underprivileged students aged 16-18 to Access talks for those interested in going to university, as well as some workshops based on the play- something or which producer Christopher Adams is especially proud, as it has never been done before.
A State Affair is thoroughly recommended, the verbatim aspect is communicated especially well and the characters are superbly acted by the cast. It promises to be dark and grim, yet simultaneously entertaining and uplifting.
A State Affair is on at the Burton Taylor Tues 1st-Sat 5th December, 19.30,