Went to see Stef's show Our Own Little Piece of Shit Paradise in an awesome octagonal hall at the Lillian Bayliss Old School, tucked away on a housing estate just off the Kennington Road. Stef had worked the piece in response to Shooting Rats, a play originally written in Austrian by Peter Turrini in 1967, but brilliantly updated and transposed to contemporary London. The work has been programmed as part of Oval House's Elsewhere season, which seeks to explore some of the disused and hidden spaces in Kennington, Vauxhall and Lambeth.
Both pieces explore ideas of worth, value and reputation and paint rather depressing pictures of young love at the end of the decade. In Shooting Rats Ads takes Evie on a date to the rubbish tip, to shoot the rats that live there. Through a series of flirtatious exchanges and come clean admissions they begin to strip away, literally and metaphorically, the inhibitions, games and possessions they've affected to assertively define them. Their descent together towards a form of innocence offers protection, even in the face of the original expectations that both of them started the evening with. For all the lack of self -belief and the pessimistic sense that the tip is an inevitable destination, it's a tender end.
Stef's piece interlinked five characters in a series of hopes, betrayals and disappointments, with the real weight coming through excellent performances by Monsay, back working with Stef a year on from Yard Gal, and Natasha Sparkes, who seems a real talent. Stef's great skill, as a director, comes in her uncompromising ability to get performances of total physical commitment from her cast. The energy at the heart of the work hints at self destruction and whilst this is, in itself, disturbing, the investment and immediacy of the action makes for an almost electric theatrical experience.
In the pub afterwards Mons told us slightly more positive stories of her experiences at the BBC (She's been filming recently for Holby City and a new drama AWOL, to be broadcast next year.) Although she's unfazed, and certainly unchanged, by her new found success it does sounds as if she's eating producers alive. It's great to see recent graduates making an impact.