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As we, tentatively, approach the end of Covid-induced restrictions in the UK, Light on Showcase provides an opportunity to reflect on the the singular experience of it, drawing on themes of loneliness, financial pressures and female relationships. The evening is part of an online series of new writing showcases and, in this case, comprised ten short pieces, all pre-recorded with a disco at the interval and an opportunity to discuss the event in a Q&A afterwards.
In the first piece, Indigestion we find a mother and daughter speaking via a video call, making good use of the Zoom medium. This is again played on in the second piece, where two sisters routinely catch up during lockdown, at first boring each other with small talk and “how are you”s, followed by the same answer. Whilst the writing is a little trite, quickly taking the sisters on an arc where they bond over helping each other with practical tasks, Tracey Hayward’s piece offers one of the most succinct and insightful lines I have heard on people’s experience of loneliness in the pandemic: ‘I thought I had more people in my life than I do.’
Bethan Leyshon gives a stand-out performance in I Wish I Was Clean, in which she plays a character giving a talk on her experience of living with OCD. I am utterly convinced by Leyshon’s extremely naturalistic and tender performance, and Caley Powell’s writing is satisfying to witness. Taking on an almost cyclical structure, Leyshon repeats the same compulsions we see at the start towards the end of the scene, beginning the scene again, making it part of the very same compulsive behaviour she has spent the scene discussing.
The second half of the show is stuffed to the brim with fiery, adroit female characters. Her (R)age is a poetry piece written by Kate Webster about a woman who is sick of patriarchy and discrimination and wants to turn to violent revolution. Webster’s lines on feminism are particularly memorable: ‘I forget which wave we’re on now / We’re on a tide — an explosion’. After having sprinkled many cocktail metaphors through the monologue, our heroine tells us she is heading out for the day with her inconspicuous tote bag. It has a cocktail in it — a molotov cocktail. It is an electrifying twist, beautifully delivered. Julia Papp also gives a beautifully restrained performance as a hospital cleaner who has been fired from her second cleaning job by her wealthy female employer in Moth. Judy Upton’s writing quickly and easily highlights the injustices faced by key-workers in the pandemic in an increasingly privatised country.
The showcase gets off to a slow start but really takes off towards the second half, delving into unique and original perspectives of the female experience during the pandemic. The production is slick and full of enthusiasm and I am intrigued to see how Lights Down Productions continue to champion new writing by women after the pandemic.
Light On Showcase is an online series hosted by Lights Down Productions. For more information and tickets, see Lights Down Productions’s website.