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The Red Within

by on 30 January 2023

Under the Bed

The Red Within

by Oihane Rodríguez

Hecate Theatre Company at the Drayton Arms Theatre, Earl’s Court until 30th January  

Review by Heather Moulson

A tense soundtrack and studied lighting created a fitting atmosphere for The Red Withinas we were greeted, as such, by Rosario amongst a striking tableau of four women.  Rosario opened up to us with pathos, turmoil and wit, slotting us nicely in the picture.  Unravelling a strict Catholic upbringing and alcoholic issues, Rosario revealed her ultimate act of homicide.  The other three women who could so easily be taken for the lead’s alter ego ’s, the loving and protective aunt, Eladia, sister Alma and close friend Regina, revealed themselves at a more leisurely pace,.  These characters had personalities and issues of their own but they were still vital for the dimensions in Rosario’s story.

Eladia, played tenderly yet firmly by Brenda Liz López, took the mother figure that the young lead badly needed.  Regina, played by the talented Sarah Tiplady, was vibrant and tragic, a real force that lived off the edge of a subtext of abuse she endured by men.  The monumental Alma, played by Georgina Koutsaimani took a little longer to unburden herself fully, but a consistent performance nevertheless. The marvellous unseen Mario, a lifeline and partner for Rosario, was beautifully played by Rowan Polonski.  All the actors were impressive with their insight.

Building up nicely into a crescendo of anger and ascending to the traumatic event that currently defined Rosario’s life, we confronted profound issues. There were powerful scenes as the actors became a chorus and brought their own sound effects and impact, emphasising the significance of Rosario’s words, and the attitudes of men towards rape victims.  The double standards were put over clearly and sharply.  

Act Two stayed consistently profound and vibrant, and carried genuinely touching scenes, particularly of the four women sitting together, loving each other’s company and throwing popcorn.  We watched Rosario growing and valuing herself again, giving hope to others. One felt trust eventually returned.   Although the issues raised were relevant, the piece didn’t lose its humour and upbeat tone, never forgetting to draw us in.

The Red Within is a strong play that is directed with empathy and insight by Sally Beck Wippman, and beautifully lit by Stephan Nieman.  Sebastian Freeburn’s sound design was authentically disturbing in the right moments.  Effective choreography was by Georgina Koutsaimani. Do watch out for this production.

Heather Moulson, January 2023

Photography by Vincent Rosec

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