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Random / Generations review at Minerva Theatre, Chichester – ‘a wake-up call’

Petra Letang in Random at Chichester Festival Theatre. Photo: Manuel Harlan
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It must be a hollow triumph for programmers when their choices prove so painfully prescient. This double bill of shorts by Debbie Tucker Green could not speak more sharply to London’s current knife crime crisis.

“Death never used to be for the young”, says the young sister in Random, whose brother is murdered by a gang during his lunch-break.

Generations is set in South Africa during the Aids epidemic. But you watch the cast reduce down, youngest first, with the inexorability of a counting rhyme, and think of the bereaved mothers on the news begging for the stabbings to stop.

Green’s skill isn’t just in the stylised patterning of the language and the stuff unsaid. As Genesis Future Directors award-winner Tinuke Craig well understands, Green’s power to make you feel loss resides in her ability to write the joyous spontaneity of life.

In Generations, you also get the smell of cooking wafting from the communal pot, and the South African Cultural Choir dancing and singing round the stage. In solo piece Random, former Eastenders actor Petra Letang conjures a close family with a curl of her lips or tilt of her hips.

Green’s new play Ear For Eye, about the too-slow pace of change, will arrive at the Royal Court in October. Mesmerising writing and engrossing performances can take an audience out of itself – even a Chichester Festival audience. But Random’s simple design, with its digital alarm clock, makes this feel like a wake-up call.

Present Laughter review at Chichester Festival Theatre – ‘slapstick and pratfalls’

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Prescient double-bill about the loss of young black lives that feels like a powerful wake-up call