There is a song, Angles, by Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip, about how nothing is as clear cut and simple as it might seem. In just three minutes and 56 seconds it speeds through four characters, all connected by one incident that has terrible consequences for all involved. Except each character sees themselves as the good guy, and views others involved as the bad one, as the one that is the cause of so many of society’s problems.
Look At Your Palm feels like the theatrical equivalent of that song, told over 90 minutes rather than the more limited length of a song. And where the song would have started out as a demo before slowly growing into a fantastic piece of music, so it is with Look At Your Palm. It is still at that early demo stage, but showing enough promise that it deserves to be worked on further, fine-tuned, honed into something greater than this early incarnation. Saying that, it is already a show worthy of praise for what it is, and for the promise of what it could become.
Look At Your Palm revolves around Venus (Naomi Fraser), a mixed race girl attempting to find her place in the world. From the start her mixed ethnicity is highlighted as an issue; the opening two scenes see her questioned over whether she follows black or white culture, as if she should have had to pick one over the other. Already we are seeing how people can view others in two completely different ways.
Following the murder of her black father (Sean Chamunorwa) at the hands of a policeman, a killing again viewed completely differently from two angles, she continues to seek acceptance, but always struggles to fit completely with any one group. Finally she strikes out on her own, making her own voice heard and taking control of what she has to say to the world.
In between is the exploration of the layers of every character. None are simply good or bad, rather they are more layered, depending on their viewer. Perhaps most obvious is her father, idolised by Venus as a man of peace and calmness, yet displaying anger and violence to his wife. Similarly, her mum (Penelope Bosworth) only wants the best for Venus, yet Venus views her as harsh and cold for not mourning her father’s death enough.
Much like its characters the play currently has both good and bad. It’s a work in progress so it’s easy to forgive moments when the lighting feels wrong or an actor enters too early; these can, and will, be ironed out as the play develops. Where the play is at its strongest though is in its writing, the monologues as actors stand alone in the middle of the stage and deliver short speeches to help give the play life and build on its themes. It’s these moments that must remain in future rewrites.
Look At Your Palm is already a powerful and thought provoking play. But much like a song, the early versions are demos that are there to be moulded into something greater that could stay in the mind for a long time to come.
Written & directed by: Mo Korede Sowole
Produced by: Jalice Corral
Playing Until: This show has completed its current run