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Sket review at Park Theatre, London – ‘intense issue-led theatre’

Tessie Orange-Turner, Laura Gardiner and Olivia in Sket at Park Theatre, London. Photo: Pete Le May Tessie Orange-Turner, Laura Gardiner and Olivia Elsden in Sket at Park Theatre, London. Photo: Pete Le May
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Maya Sondhi’s Sket initially comes across as a comedy. It touches on familiar themes – teen outrage and sexual awakening – but there’s something much darker at work here. The bite-size scenes depict the extreme psychological patterns of bullying and sexual exploitation that young people are exposed to on social media.

The power behind Sodhi’s writing is not so much what she exposes but what she leaves unexplored. Sket is issue theatre at its most intense. We have become so hyper-sexualised as a society, that even a simple street-dance class, a moment of reconciliation between the victims of abuse, is riddled with sexual innuendo. As drama, however, the conversation that arises post-performance is no real substitute for what feels like the missing final section of this brief and somewhat abrupt one-act play.

Director Prav MJ’s confrontational style suits the rhythms of the text, while the young cast capture a pervading air of lost innocence. This is coupled with a stark but effective design of projected urban streets and classrooms. Of the men, Tom Ratcliffe’s volatile JC is genuinely frightening, switching from persuasive charmer to psychopath in a flash. Dave Perry’s Adam is a maelstrom of contradictions, convinced he is gay because he cannot stomach hardcore porn but also susceptible to the fascist ideologies forced upon him by a bullying father. But it is Tessie Orange-Turner, as the bolshy Tamika, who fully commands the audience’s attention, underscoring the angst of the play with genuine pathos.

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Intense, if bite-size, docudrama that still manages to hit home