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“Thought-provoking solo show”

Rosa Postlethwaite’s one-woman show Composed is a spiky, fractured, insinuating thing. An examination of both what it is to work in theatre and to be in the audience – and the seen and unseen forces that shape those experiences – it addresses everything from corporate sponsorship of the arts to sexual harassment, taking in ‘audience etiquette’ and institutional power dynamics on the way.

Postlethwaite’s ‘person in a red suit’ is the master of ceremonies for a show we never see. From the slyly witty opening – when she thanks ‘sponsors’ that include everyone from the student loans company to the Queen, turning what is usually a backslapping exercise into a critique of capitalism and colonialism – she skewers the social conventions we encounter in and out of the theatre.

A hand-rubbing thought exercise becomes a demonstration of how we gradually accept the country’s increasing hostility to others; there will be few women not grimly familiar with the sinister escalation of the “why did you come here if you don’t want to talk to anyone?” scene, where refusing a drink becomes a dangerous rejection.

It’s a sparse, stripped-back show with few props, fully captioned and-audio described, which Postlethwaite integrates into the piece, without ever making it gimmicky.

While at times it feels like a series of sketches, Composed is held together by Postlethwaite’s subtly spellbinding performance – both raw and contained, someone slowly fracturing under the pressure of their assumed official persona. The result is a compact gem of a show, both original and unsettling.

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Production Details
Production nameComposed
VenueNorthern Stage
LocationNewcastle upon Tyne
StartsSeptember 17, 2019
EndsSeptember 17, then touring until October 11, 2019
Running time1hr
AuthorRosa Postlethwaite
DirectorRosa Postlethwaite
Lighting designerAriane Nixon, Michael Morgan
Sound designerJamie Cook, Rosa Postlethwaite
CastRosa Postlethwaite
TechnicalJoanne Naughton, Michael Davies
ProducerRosa Postlethwaite
VerdictRosa Postlethwaite delivers a quietly devastating performance in her thought-provoking solo show about the arts industry
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Tracey Sinclair

Tracey Sinclair

Tracey Sinclair

Tracey Sinclair

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