Little Scratch, Hampstead Theatre, Hampstead Theatre, Hampstead Theatre, Hampstead Theater, Hampstead Theatre, Hampstead Theatre, Hampstead Theatre, Hampstead

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Little Scratch, Hampstead Theatre, Hampstead Theatre, Hampstead Theatre, Hampstead Theatre, Hampstead Theatre, Hampstead Theatre, Hampstead Theatre, Hampstead

Katie Mitchell rises to the challenge of adapting Rebecca Watson’s groundbreaking debut novel for the stage with aplomb.

Rebecca Watson’s debut novel, a moment-by-moment account of a day in the life of a young woman who has been raped, is astonishing. It is blisteringly honest and unflinchingly intimate.

It’s a stunning experiment in form and typography, with the words scattering and spilling across the page, following the nameless narrator’s zigzagging thoughts, impressions, and physical sensations.

The writing is so intricate and immediate that it feels as if we’ve crawled under the woman’s skin.

This play, directed by Katie Mitchell and adapted from Watson’s book of the same title by Miriam Battye, brilliantly meets its challenges.

It has a feel of Sarah Kane’s later work, with four actors each voicing quicksilver slivers of the woman’s consciousness; and, like her stage version of Virginia Woolf’s The Waves, Mitchell uses Foley sound effects and multiple perspectives to help create a dizzying vortex of restless storytelling.

Melanie Wilson’s soundscape, which blends woozy electro-thrum and weeping strings with the noise of city streets, commute, or workplace, has a symphonic musicality to it, as does the intertwining rise and fall of the words.

The woman’s compulsive scratching is a response to the gnawing background buzz of trauma: the insistent, intrusive memory of violation.

On a bare black stage, actors Morónk Akinlá, Eleanor Henderson, Eve Ponsonby, and Ragevan Vasan stand behind microphones.

There are props on two tables: crisp packets to rustle and crunch, crumpled paper, a banana that the woman eats for breakfast at her desk, and the act of peeling – “breaking its neck, pulling down its clothes” – one of countless micro-reminders of sexual violence.

The lights dim until the performers’ faces resemble masks floating in the darkness as she drifts off, still pursued by the unspoken anguish she’s suppressing.

The narrative becomes more real, more raw, as you watch – and hear – it unfold with the theatrical mechanics exposed.

Nothing much happens on the surface: she gets up, goes to work, meets her boyfriend, and they return to his place.

But every second is tense, and often wryly familiar – what woman, going about her business.

UK news summary from Infosurhoy

Little Scratch, Hampstead Theatre, Hampstead Theatre, Hampstead Theatre, Hampstead Theater, Hampstead Theatre, Hampstead Theatre, Hampstead Theatre, Hampstead

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Little Scratch, Hampstead Theatre, review: Extraordinary – and indispensable

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Little Scratch, Hampstead Theatre, review: Extraordinary – and indispensable

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