The Cut by Mark Ravenhill, Lion & Unicorn Theatre
What is it?
This eerie show, set in a dystopian- type world, looks at the difference between past and present generational ideals, and the effects those from older generations can have on the world to come.
What's it all about?
The Cut follows the life of Paul (David Paulin), a man who is stuck in a government job, in which he has the responsibility of carrying out the brutal and barbaric operation known simply as "The Cut". Paul is caught up in this cycle, everyday, he continues to do his job and feels no connection or even real remorse toward the women he operates on. However, when the deeply passionate Johanna (Katie Warnusz-Steckel) walks into his office desperate to have "The Cut" performed on her, Paul is awakened to the violence of his actions and his desperation for real purpose and change. He is torn between being open with his wife and daughter, both unawares of the goings on at his place of work, and the values that lie within the old school way of thinking and the tradition he has carried on. Perhaps this is his purpose? Perhaps this is exactly what he was supposed to be doing all along.
How did it make me feel?
The tension created from the get go was absolutely palpable. Upon entering the space the audience are confronted with a choice. Two actresses sit either end of a desk and beg audience members to "vote" for them. What it is we are being asked to vote for is a different matter. It isn't until the show begins and Katie Warns-Steckel assumes the role of Johanna that we realise that she has been selected to have "The Cut".
While it is never specifically stated what "The Cut" actually is, it is the description of this time old tradition that really sets my heart ablaze with anguish, filling me with dread and the idea that women are having parts of themselves cut away and left to feel nothing at all.
The relationships between the different characters set the biggest bout of emotion through me from the slightly sexual, sadistic nature between Paul and Johanna, to the incredibly stagnant relationship between Paul and his wife Susan, (played by the incredible Molly Wheaton), and the delicate rage that lingers between Paul and his daughter Stephanie (played stoically by Francesca Ottley).
Aside from the wonderful performances from all the actors involved who were incredibly committed to this dark subject matter, this show often made me feel alienated from the story as it jumped from scene to scene without much connection to the one before it and left me wondering what was being said in the unsaid instead of giving me a chance to catch up.
Where Was It Playing?
Originally performed at the Donmar Warehouse, this gender-swapped show is now playing at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre. This space is a great choice for a show that requires a round, claustrophobic feel, and the use of quick, snaps of harsh white light create the perfect home for this harrowing tale.
I really enjoyed the concept of this show, and the gender-swaps provided a great commentary on the rights women have had to their bodies throughout history, and the way in which men still have the final say on how it is treated and regarded.
The Cut is on at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre from 29th November-1st December 2018.