Pros: The performers have energy and commitment.
Cons: Incoherent plot and characterisation. Little variation.
Having overcome the travails of TFL, and with drink in hand, I made my way from the spacious bar at The Pleasance, past the main theatre and into the studio theatre known as StageSpace. I’ve been to The Pleasance before and enjoyed it, but this was my first opportunity to sample the more intimate qualities of the second space. Unfortunately the sound insulation is not the best, so voices floating up from the bar act as unheralded extras. One is distracted from the action on stage, to wonder instead just what Susan has been up to.
It Is So Ordered expects you to be educated on the issues it explores. The storytelling is unconventional and attempts to convey the action through the eyes of several characters, portrayed by two actors with commitment and energy. I’d like to describe the plot, but unfortunately it was often unclear exactly what was happening and to whom.
The play explores the injustice perpetrated during the racial tensions of 1960’s America, culminating in a wrongful arrest after the Harlem Race Riots of 1964. Time passes and things happen, but I’d be hard pressed to tell you what. The actors run, sing, suffer and deliver each line with the force and energy of a gale. As such, the whole production feels a little one-note, and after the initial shock of the opening minutes, things start to drag. I hoped that some variation would be forthcoming, but alas it was not to be.
The play is presented on a thrust stage, with the audience on either side of a rectangular playing space. A chalk line runs down the middle of the stage, which one assumes is of significance to the action. However, this is never addressed and merely adds to the chaotic nature of the production. The actors spend a lot of time walking backwards and forwards, singing and being whipped. I presume this is intended to link the events described with the wider historical persecution of black people. However, this link is never made very clear.
Ultimately, I felt a little annoyed by this play. It offered a dialogue with no expectation of rebuttal. It is almost universally accepted that racism is abhorrent. Just as injustice and discrimination in all forms is abhorrent. However, It Is So Ordered attempts to manufacture a play out of indignation and overlooks the need for plot, character or stagecraft. That said, the play touches on important themes. The actors have incredible presence and at times I was compelled to thought and absolutely engaged with the action on stage. There is undeniable potential in this show, once it decides on its identity.
Author: Conor Carroll
Director: Lucy Curtis
Booking Information: This show has now completed its run.