TAGGED

Thu 11th – Sat 13th August 2016

reviews

Grace Calvert

at 09:01 on 12th Aug 2016

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It takes my ears a moment to tune into to the thick Glaswegian accent, but once they do, I’m in. Two girls, Seanette and ‘Mad’ Lynn, are trapped in a cycle of crime and reoffending. They are reckless and seemingly dismissive as they live their lives in and out of court, or prison, or constantly tagged with a curfew to obey. However as their friendship changes and they grow into their early twenties, this toxic cycle begins to wear. ‘Tagged’ by John Stuart is I Know A Guy Theatre’s reaction to the rise in women committing more weighty crimes in the modern day. It’s funny, touching and eager for a fight.

Without a great amount of tension in the narrative of the play, its success is pinned on the audience believing in the struggles of Seanette and Lynn, played by Holly Alexandra and Katie Hammond. Both women give stunning performances. It is easy to feel Lynn’s (Hammond) dejection, and we begin to see that it is a sense of being unwanted and out of place that has led to her apathy towards committing and breaching. Seanette (Alexandra) is boisterous without ever becoming clichéd, and there is a maintained sense of fragility and dignity held beneath her bravado. The connection between the two women dazzles and delights, whether you are moved by a conversation about their deceased mothers or laughing at Lynn unnerving Seanette with her poetry.

However the production is let down by its design elements. With only two black crates serving as the set, the black box, minimal approach to set design is underwhelming. There is no sense of these girls being trapped or of illuminating the background from which they come. It feels like a missed opportunity to show the audience what it feels like to be forbidden to leave your living room. This sparse, undefined design also gives way to more abstract sequences serving as transitions within the play. Though well-choreographed, these felt out of place and jarred with the grimy reality of the piece.

'Tagged', then, is a perfectly competent play. Whilst some aspects of it are excellent, cracks emerge quickly and mean that the play's potential remains disappointingly unfulfilled.

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Caragh Aylett

at 16:56 on 12th Aug 2016

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'Tagged' follows the tale of two women who are caught in a cycle of breaching the law. Lynn (Katie Hammond) and Seanette (Holly Alexandra) play characters lost in a world of hopelessness and parole. It paints a picture far removed from the middle class lifestyle of most festival goers and presents a darker, more brutal world that exists alongside it.

The story weaves through twists and turns. We assume in one scene that Lynn is about to go to jail but the judge is kind and allows her to go free. In another scene we are told that Lynn’s mum is dead; only to later on find out that she is not. While the storyline changes suddenly, the audience does feel at all surprised or relieved – the investment in the characters just is not there. It is hard to tell whether this is down to the writing or the acting but it is perhaps a combination of an unconvincing element in both. Indeed, in some scenes the acting is strong and convincing, but this is quickly undermined by another, weaker scene. Of particular note is a scene where the girls fight but the emotion and physicality is simply not strong enough to believe that they really dislike each other.

The narrative draws attention to the backgrounds of the characters. Alexandra’s portrayal of her younger sister is interesting and paints a picture of the turmoil in her home life; this is also true in Hammond’s discussion of her mother. While we hear about members of their family, I felt that I had little idea why the women had ended up in and out of jail; what had their childhoods been like? Had their parents been to jail? What were the reasons for committing a crime? I felt that in some places the more trivial dialogue could have been replaced with something that developed the history of the characters and which would have allowed the audience to really invest in their stories.

Despite their position in a cycle of court cases and prison cells, the women never lose hope, Seanette knows she’ll get a job ‘when she’s ready’ while Lynn is yearning for a holiday in Magaluf. For Seanette that reality is still very far away, even at the end of the play, however, for Lynn the joy of a holiday is very reachable and the audience has the satisfaction of seeing the character progress to a brighter future. That Seanette doesn’t achieve this prevents the piece becoming too cliché but her story is left open – it is possible for the viewer to consider that her future might not be as dark as her past.

‘Tagged’ plays with ideas of crime, hope and friendship. It touches on hugely poignant ideas but fails to unpack them; it has the potential to be incredible but is just not quite there yet.

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