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SCARLET – Southwark Playhouse, London.

ScarletTheatre Renegade’s production of Scarlet by Sam H. Freeman is a cautionary tale about the perils of the internet and how letting your guard down for one moment can haunt you for years. After getting drunk and sharing a bit too much of herself at a university party, Scarlet wakes up with a hangover to find an incriminating video splashed all over Facebook. Determined to not let it get the better of her, she tries to power through but finds this is easier said than done. Her life and relationships begin to crumble around her.

Lucy Kilpatrick, Jade Ogugua, Heida Reed and Asha Reid all play Scarlet, and Scarlet’s impressions of various people on the fringes of her story, and between them cover every possible emotion you can imagine, representing different facets to her personality. They are outstanding.

Beginning with light-hearted anecdotes about various ex-boyfriends and sexual encounters, events all too easily descend into a nightmare for which there seems no escape. Darkly humorous throughout, the shrewd observations and quick-witted dialogue ensure that despite the very serious subject, the play never feels scolding or oppressive.

The minimal design by Lydia Denno (set and costumes) and Matt Leventhall (lighting), combined with the dynamic direction by Joe Hufton, infuses the text with energy and gravitas. A lot is left to the audience’s imagination. Allowing you to project your own experiences into the material, this makes it all the more real.

Scarlet could be any girl, she could be you. The idea that something like this could spin out of control so quickly is frightening. It is a sobering thought that in the age we live in where technology is everywhere, something said or done in passing could be around forever.

Scarlet is just how I like my plays to be. Conceptual and fact paced, entertaining but with dark undertones and a solid moral story. It throws up questions about how society views victims of sexual abuse and the catastrophic consequences of how a victim could come to view themselves. As I recall, the word ‘abuse’ is never uttered. Scarlet is painted as a girl very much in control of her own sexuality and this goes to show that the events in this story could happen to anyone.

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Reviewed 17/04/2015

By Catherine Duffy

15th April – 9th May 2015
Southwark Playhouse, London SE1 6BD.

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