Rise is set in a dystopian world where the divide between the wealthy and poor has grown to insurmountable levels. It examines democracy, the right to vote, and inequality.
Despite serious topics surrounding the piece, our attention is immediately grabbed in the opening line, which is punchy and comical. I feel at ease straight away, by the really lovely naturalistic dialogue of writer Jordan Paris, who also acts in the piece. The play is authentic, despite being set in a dystopian world, and it strikes a good balance between humour and sincerity. Dialogue flows easily between characters and there are conversations that could easily have been had in my own home, the difference being that the characters in this piece are playing twenty questions whilst videotaping a hostage situation and hitting a man over the head with a wooden bat.
The three commendable actors take on a variety of roles throughout, and the changes between characters are executed with subtle, yet clear differences. Scene changes are performed expertly and promptly by the actors, although I don’t think the speed at which they are executed is necessary, as the play is short, and I quite enjoy that time between scenes to reflect and digest.
I can’t help but smile when watching the talented Madison Stock, who incorporates a lovable demeanour into all her characters. I also particularly enjoy the role of Rex Carrow being played by both Stock and Vicki Mason, who both deliver the amusing, ballsy role in a way that reminds me of the endearing Catherine Tate. Paris also portrays his characters with natural flair and confidence, and Nancy Sullivan’s direction is slick and precise.
I think it was an interesting decision to base this piece in a dystopian world, when there are countries all over the globe where this vast divide between the rich and the poor already exists. This play could have the potential (with the right guidance and support) to offer a true insight into countries with horrendous inequality and raise awareness. Even if the play itself was still set in a dystopian world, moving forwards, the company could perhaps highlight real stories of inequality in its programme. This would also give the play even more importance.
Rise comes to quite an abrupt finish, and it is far shorter than expected, but it’s easy to forgive this for the entertainment it has provided, and I am sorry to see it end.
Regrettably, the play now ends its journey with the new writing Homecoming Festival, but there are still a few productions in this exciting festival to catch before it ends on Saturday, and if this play is anything to go by, you’re in for a treat.
Rise played at the White Bear Theatre as part of the Homecoming Festival, which ran until 24 July 2021. For more information, see White Bear Theatre online.