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Victim review at King’s Head Theatre, London – ‘engagingly performed’

Louise Beresford in Victim at King's Head Theatre, London Louise Beresford in Victim at King's Head Theatre, London

Martin Murphy’s one-woman monologue is titled Victim, but the three characters represented in it are far from meek or mute.

Tracey, a prison officer, is an early-30s Londoner stuck in a gradually deflating relationship. On each shift she sees Siobhan, a quick-witted and funny Irish woman doing time for stabbing an ex-partner.  The third person, known only by her prison number, or the pseudonym given to her by the press, arrives inside found guilty of murdering her own child.

‘Marsha’, with her fervent religious belief that the child was just having “the evil” cut out of it, becomes a source of fascination for Tracey, an obsession that Siobhan in turn manipulates.

Louise Beresford is an energetic and enigmatic performer, slipping efficiently between the characters. She’s at her best when performing as Tracey, making the woman seem like a believable mixture of mundane domestic concerns and more existential anxieties. In general, Beresford’s feverish delivery is strongest in the latter parts of the play – it starts off just a little too fast and is hard to follow.

Murphy’s script contains some precise references – the prison in question is surely HMP Holloway prior to closing – and similarly evocative minor details, such as Tracey’s boyfriend sneakily pissing in a pint glass in a theatre or a leg vibrating from a concealed mobile.

It’s frustratingly close to being a very strong piece of writing, but it’s compromised by a top-heavy plot structure that allows for little investment in the illusive ‘Marsha’ and her enfolding tragedy.

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Engagingly performed monologue set in a women’s prison