Monday 9 April 2018

Victim @ The Kings Head Theatre

Victim @ The Kings Head Theatre

Victim covers a lot in its short, 60 minute run-time. A black comedy about a female prison (with a little Orange Is The New Black flair), it’s a one woman play about two characters: prison officer Tracey and inmate Siobhan. Actress Louise Beresford plays both characters, relaying fragments of story that cover a whole host of themes: motherhood, the female psyche and finding your purpose in life, amongst others.

Individually these scenes are intriguing. Writer Martin Murphy has a keen ear for witty, conversational dialogue and together with Beresford’s performance, we are drawn into the narrative – even if she does speak the lines breathlessly quickly. The plot actually revolves around a third character – a notorious, celebrity inmate - but really this is a character portrait of these two women. Tracey is na├»ve and upright, who longs for a romantic life but is (understandably) horrified when her husband urinates into a bottle during a theatre trip. Her idea of rebelling is to sneak off after work to take part in a pub quiz. Siobhan, on the other hand, is a provocative, manipulative Irish woman. She tells us about murdering her ex-boyfriend almost nonchalantly, and amusingly pulls apart the prison system from the inside. Beresford clearly relishes in this sexy role, eyeballing the audience with a knowing look.

As the narrative progresses, the stories of the two women become shorter and Beresford switches between them with ease, offering just enough variety in characterisation that we can follow along. When their paths cross, the drama ignites. Beresford’s performance is captivating, but the individual fragments and anecdotes don’t quite create a cohesive whole. Rarely is the celebrity inmate referred to and the two disparate narratives ultimately feel too separate. Tension builds towards a violent climax, but it doesn’t provide the necessary shock factor – we’re more invested in the private lives of these two women than we are the events inside the prison which as a result lack urgency.

As such, Victim tries to do too much and so doesn’t satisfy. It’s a play of interesting smaller moments that are wonderfully told, but don’t quite come together.


Watch: Victim runs at the Kings Head Theatre until 21st April