RAW: Early Worx – Not Enough Oxygen & Seven Jewish Children – 4K

English dramatist, Caryl Churchill’s works span any number of controversial issues from politics to sex and religion. Early Worx at Higher Ground are producing two in a season that lasts til just Sunday evening.

Not Not Not Not Not Enough Oxygen was written in 1970 as a radio play and depicts the world in the present time, a place of small square apartments, an absence of birds and fresh air, where parks and nature are a novelty and angry, nihilistic youths roam setting fire to things.

This production by Dee Easton successfully conveys the claustrophobic world of an anxious, ageing  father (Roger Newcombe) and the naive, tense and prissy woman he shares his flat with (Amy Brooks) as they await his media personality son’s (Charles Sanders) arrival – a presence not enjoyed for five years and which promises a new world.

It is easy to dismiss the predictions of the world of now created forty years ago as whimsical or in part lucky or obvious guesses with much got wrong that tears away the potential of the story. The debate had in the play about the cost of getting licenses for second children and the plight of those who seek to have such children without state permission can seemingly be easily dismissed.

Yet, looking around the world as now know it, so much of what Churchill has predicted has either come to be or is threatening to do so. The most recent somewhat pointless London riots, the scourge of refugees looking for a home and even the local debate about extending the right to end life all loom as examples of where debate is now being held, a far cry from the mores that would have dictated outcomes on similar issues in the 1970s.

The Early Worx team do a great job to create a space that leaves you worried, with both Newcombe and Brooks in fine form.

After the break, Charles Sanders directs the more controversial 2009 play Seven Jewish Children where a family frets over what to say and how to explain to their child/grandchild/sister the world they inhabit in Gaza. Through being told in the personal perspective, especially to an innocent, of the contradictions, hopes and horrors of life in these contested lands, some heavy messages are conveyed successfully.

Sanders has worked wonders with the space, ably assisted by Chris Donoghue’s lighting with the whole adding to the tension and fragmentation of these lives under pressure. Chrissie’s Page closing speech is a highlight.

This is as it should be – provocative theatre – without heavy over layering of directorial political bias.

Anyone interested in either topic, but particularly the Jewish issue should ensure they get along to Higher Ground during this season.

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