“What kind of man would I be if I let you pay? On an access scheme?”
Armed with lines such as these, Anna Myrmus’ writing in Your Little Play seems poised and ready to make you angry at the world in 4th week. Having seen Act 1 and having quizzed the eloquent cast and director on the specifics of the production the play seems to be filled with brilliant characterisations of some brilliantly flawed characters which the audience can hope to look forward to.
In Your Little Play the audience gets to watch a representation of themselves make split-second decisions that only send them further into the tailspin they’ve been running toward – feeling somewhat like it’s a helter-skelter at a funfair – as well as a fun representation of the pale, male and stale figure that somehow still has power over all of us.
Through these characters the play looks ready and set to explore the complexities of the notion of power. In particular, the power that those established in the arts have over newcomers proves one of the most fascinating elements of the story being told, and the power dynamics between these characters come creeping out of the cracks in their overly tense communications. In the segment which I have seen, the acting of Isabella Gilpin as Laura and Lorelei Piper as Emma cleverly brings out the insidious nature of the expected submission of women in a work environment, as well as its potential for personal emotional ramifications.
When I asked Myrmus for her rationale behind writing the play, relatability seemed to come to the fore: she replied that she felt “most women have a story that is similar”. The timely resonance of the story that is being told looks to be the strength of the production. The fact that the issue of men behaving badly in positions of power, enabled by their privilege, is so relevant today is what makes this production appear to be special. As the action of Your Little Play unfolds, figures such as Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey become spectres that haunt the shadows. This gives it has power outside of its immediate performance context and adds to one’s desire to intently watch what is going on.
Another interesting question arises through the course of the play, and one you might not expect: “Can you separate the art from the artist?” How could you possibly do this if the artist has personally made you suffer? Is knowing that they have made people suffer any different? These are questions which have affected most of us in recent times and are confronted head-on in the course of the play.
This appears to be a play which seeks to remove the black and white. Characters are not good and bad, they are human. Who is to say you would not have done the same in their situation? Who is to say they didn’t do the best they could?
Ultimately, Nightjar Theatre present a fundamental truth to the audience: your life is defined by the choices you make. All that’s left to do it pick carefully.