random review – debbie tucker green’s knife-crime drama hits home

Leeds Playhouse
Kiza Deen excels in green’s heart-wrenching one-woman play about the killing of a black schoolboy

A son and brother dies as a consequence of “something important, not no random”: a “killer cut”. debbie tucker green’s one-woman play about the day in the life of an ordinary family hit by a random act of violence first appeared in 2008. Ten years on, knife crime is not only still with us but getting worse – 22% worse in England and Wales over the past 12 months. As Baroness Lawrence made clear to the home affairs committee on 5 February, not enough is being done to tackle the crime, nor to deal with the fact that, in London, a disproportionate number of young, black people are its victims.

These are dry facts. In Leeds, the performance, gloriously delivered by Kiza Deen and directed by Gbolahan Obisesan, is vibrantly energised, life-full and, ultimately, a profound expression of the shock of sudden death.

Deen embodies Sister (who provides the central, narrator point-of-view), as well as Brother, Mother and Father. She flickers rapidly from one to the other, interposing among them people they encounter over the course of one day in London. tucker green’s script is simultaneously everyday and poetic. Repeating patterns of words (in London-Caribbean dialect) expose deep layers of feelings and relationships. The more particular the observations of the family’s life – their expressions of exasperation, impatience or love – the more truthful they feel, and therefore the more familiar and universal. Sister’s heart-wrenching, post-death verbal adjustment, “our... my mum” expresses a loss that hurts us all.

random is at Leeds Playhouse until 16 February


Clare Brennan

The GuardianTramp

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