Athena Stevens’ latest play is full of quiet fury. Stevens plays the title role in this piece, based on her own experiences, about a woman with athetoid cerebral palsy who had her £30,000 wheelchair broken by airline personnel at a London airport, rendering her unable to leave her home for several
Scrounger follows the protagonist’s quest for justice. She knows somebody owes her a new wheelchair; she’s just not sure who.
The storytelling is measured, methodical and full of detail. Julian Starr’s impressively inventive sound design makes it all the more engaging.
Playing opposite Stevens in this two-hander is the excellent Leigh Quinn, who takes on several characters including an impatient and conflict-averse partner, a fickle and insufferable best friend and a fame-hungry human rights activist. Quinn’s talent for multi-roling and aptitude for accent and dialect is remarkable.
But there’s a sense that Stevens is holding back, that she’s holding some rage in reserve because she really wants this story to be heard.
At the time the incident that inspired the play happened, just over four years ago, Stevens’ ordeal was well-documented in a Twitter storm that was followed by a press explosion. This leaves you wondering why it’s been programmed now.
One thing that’s clear, though, is that conflict avoidance is a luxury, one that disabled people can’t afford.