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Sam H Freeman’s first full-length play is a smart, engaging piece of writing about sexual politics in the age of social media. University student Scarlet gets smashed at a party one night and wakes the next day to find a man she once rejected has filmed her drunkenly discussing her sexual exploits and uploaded it to Facebook, where it quickly begins to spread. The video rapidly infects her life. She can’t escape it.

While the play tells one woman’s story, the voice of Scarlet is divided between the four performers – Lucy Kilpatrick, Jade Ogugua, Heida Reed and Asha Reid. They are all Scarlet, both individually and together. Sometimes they interrupt or correct one another, sometimes they comfort each other, and while they occasionally take on the roles of the other characters in the story, they do it as Scarlet. It’s a nice device, well handled by the cast and by director Joe Hufton, the narrative flowing seamlessly between them while also subtly highlighting the ways in which we form judgements about others.

Some of the other directorial and design choices feel pretty blunt in comparison. There’s a lot of neon and red, a tangle of a bed at the centre of the stage. The extremes of the last 15 minutes or so also push things too far – the play is at its strongest when exploring the idea of slut-shaming and the way social media can be used to reinforce the different sexual standards to which women and men are still held.

Production Details
Production nameScarlet
VenueSouthwark Playhouse
StartsApril 15, 2015
EndsMay 9, 2015
Running time1hr 40mins
AuthorSam H Freeman
ComposerBenji Huntrods, Ed Burgon
DirectorJoe Hufton
Set designerLydia Denno
Lighting designerMatt Leventhall
CastAsha Reid, Heida Reed, Jade Ogugua, Lucy Kilpatrick
TechnicalHarry Butcher, Laura Merryweather
Stage managerKatie Thackery
ProducerTheatre Renegade
VerdictSmart, engaging new play about slut-shaming and social media
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Natasha Tripney

Natasha Tripney

Natasha Tripney

Natasha Tripney

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