The Special Relationship is a documentary theatre piece that works both as a fun night out and as a punch in your stomach. The impact of knowing that the events mentioned on stage are real is incredibly emotional, however, there is also a very strong comic side to this show that can’t be ignored.
The choice to include musical moments, created by the sound designer Sarah Weltman, contribute to the necessary lightness of the piece; working as an opposition to some of the hard speeches. Although these moments are indeed very comic, they become expected and repetitive throughout the show. The same happens with the small choreographies by Lucie Pankhurst, they become predictable after a while.
The acting has a naturalistic feel, even though it is powdered with some delightfully surrealist moments. Despite the fact that the cast works beautifully as an ensemble and also individually, I would like to highlight the work of the actress Yvette Boakye, whose character faces a beautiful and vast curve during the show. She manages to embark on her character’s journey in a truly moving way.
I was slightly disappointed by the design of the show. I understand one of the needs of this show is for it to be easily portable, as sometimes it is performed in non-conventional locations, and therefore the sets and props need to be simple. However, I found the aesthetics, as an overall, to be weak and too simplistic, and I think some of the choices could have been more clever.
Having said that, the use of the space is very intelligent, and the actors are able to transport the audience to many different locations with just the use of their bodies and a few props.
The script, by Hassan Abdulrazzak, is amazing and such an important reminder of the immense privilege it is to be free in a world full of walls. The Special Relationship provides an urgent and necessary reflection about prison and justice systems around the world, but especially in the US and UK, and results in a pertinent and educational piece of theatre.
Even though the show is very interesting and has a beautiful rhythm, I found it to be too long, with an interval that really cuts down the flow of the action.
The Soho Theatre is currently closed and their season of work has been suspended. For more details head to their website.