The first word that comes to mind when describing hang by debbie tucker green is ‘tense’. This new revival of her 2015 play, directed by Taio Lawson, is an hour-long masterclass in tension – creating it, building it, and holding it at a fever pitch.
Diveen Henry plays a woman who has had an unspeakable crime committed against her and her family. She is brought to a governmental office by officials Marianne Oldham and Sid Sagar in order to confirm the choice of capital punishment she has selected for the perpetrator.
You really feel the weight that Henry’s character is carrying, the anger and the fear and the devastation of it all. Oldham and Sagar are a brilliant duo here too and the back and forth of their interviewing spiel, not to mention their slip ups, is timed to perfection. In his speech about the different methods of execution available, their pros, cons, and protocols, Sagar absolutely nails the play’s heady mix of the macabre, dark humour and corporate culture.
It’s a performance lasting just over an hour, during which there’s a slow and subtle building of fearful anticipation, not only from the script and the cast themselves, but from the sound design created by Dan Balfour. In this sterile office room, the everyday sounds of a water cooler and air conditioning take on a sinister edge, becoming louder and louder before cutting out with the slam of a door, only to build again. The set is that of a mundane office – but its harsh lighting, giant photographic wall print and goldfish bowl take on a nightmarish dystopian quality amidst the corporate speak on capital punishment.
The cast had the audience in the palm of its hand here, and you’ll find yourself flitting between holding your breath and laughing. In this play we hear of those well-known meetings about meetings and the age-old battle against shoddy office air conditioning, but we also hear about the premium quality straps on an electric chair, and the absolute devastation caused by trauma. It’s disturbing, it’s clever, and it’s ice cold.
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