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New Shoes Theatre in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre presents




Writer: Dacia Maraini (translated by Sharon Wood)


Director: Nicolette Kay


Lighting: Chris Withers


Producer: Anna Holland


Finborough Theatre


November 1 – 16, 2009






A review by Jafar Iqbal for EXTRA! EXTRA!

Enough cannot be said about Amnesty International and the work that they do. At the forefront when it comes to generating human rights awareness, Amnesty is a global treasure; and as they campaign for various issues, other organisations help where, when and however they can.

One such attempt at creating awareness takes place at the Finborough Theatre as New Shoes Theatre, in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre, bring you Hurried Steps. More a set of educational montages than a piece of theatrical performance, Hurried Steps bares open the subject of domestic violence against women. The five actors (two male, three female) enact true stories about domestic violence from around the world, exposing the horrors that are still somewhat buried.

As a vehicle to promote action against domestic violence, Hurried Steps is fantastic. Right from the offset, knowing that these are true stories before a word is even uttered is reason enough for the audience to get immersed. The stories told are brutal and heartbreaking, and some very strong performances help to get into the skin of the individuals involved. We see both victims and perpretators, making it more well-rounded, human and, thankfully, not biased to an extreme level. Obviously, each story sides with the victim and rightfully so, but by having the voice of the perpretator, we are given a glimpse of what leads to their actions. Again, this isn’t done to offer some sort of justification, but to tell the story from every angle. An interesting and intelligent decision to have made, and any less could not be expected from playwright Dacia Maraini.

What resonates most when watching Hurried Steps is the simplicity of it all. This is not a preaching, nor is it an attempt at glorification. Bravely, director Nicolette Kay treads that fine line between the two. The actors stand in a straight line on the stage, dressed in black, and are essentially taking part in a rehearsed reading. Change of accents and conviction in dialogue is the furthest they go in ‘performing’ for the audience, making sure that most important of all are the words and the stories themselves. The format used rests somewhere between the monologue-style of The Vagina Monologues and the verbatim of Talking To Terrorists, but never becomes either, successfully at times but with a struggle at other points.

Helping maintain that fine line rests on the actors’ shoulders and, as mentioned earlier, they are strong in their performances. Clarity and conviction are the main ingredients needed for such a subject matter and performance style, and the actors do more than enough to fulfill those requirements. It is sometimes difficult to determine when an actor is in character and when they are narrating (and it seems odd that each story has a different narrative style, despite having one writer), but that is a small gripe that doesn’t influence the enjoyment of the production whatsoever.

As Maraini had intended, each performance is followed by a open-forum discussion with specially-invited guests and the audience, and tonight was no different. This is perhaps where I was most disappointed. The concept of an open discussion is an extremely good one, and I applaud Kay for not avoiding that facet of the production. However, more time should have been given to this. The conversation seemed to end just as it was beginning, and I feel that dampened the effect that it was meant to have.

Still, as a whole, Hurried Steps does exactly what it sets out to do – it opens the eyes of the audience to the seriousness of domestic violence around the world. You cannot help but feel sadness at the stories, and that makes you want to go out and do something. With a women’s rights activist like Maraini having penned the script, and Amnesty International playing an active role in the promotion, this is a credible and admirable attempt at raising awareness.


Box Office: 0844 847 1652

Performance Dates: Sundays and Mondays – 1, 2, 8, 9, 15 and 16 November

Evenings at 7.30pm (approximately 2 hours long)

Tickets: £13 / £9 concessions

Finborough Theatre

118 Finborough Road, London, SW10 9ED



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