Review: Violent Circumstances at the Blue Elephant Theatre

Susannah Cann started writing Violent Circumstances in response to the murders of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa in 2021. Since then, the piece has remained just as topical; the murders of Ashling Murphy, Lily Sullivan, Zara Aleena, Emma and Lettie Pattison and countless others have made headlines in the last twelve months, while who knows how many more women have suffered abuse and violence that never made the news. This violence is nothing new, of course, but it’s hard not to feel helpless in the face of its continued prevalence. That helplessness and anger led to the creation of Violence Circumstances.

The play is actually made up of four short plays, linked by the common theme of violence against women and girls. In The DJ Thinks I’m Smashed, a young woman (Cat Thomas) is enjoying a night out at a club, but when she’s parted from her friends and her drink gets spiked, the evening takes a dark turn. In How Old Was I When We Met? we witness a phone conversation between two friends – it’s never explicitly stated but it’s implied that they’re ex-lovers – as one (Annabel Lisk) learns to her horror that the other has had a sexual encounter with an underage girl… and there’s video. Not All Men sees two sisters (Phoebe Shephard and Cat Thomas) argue about the validity of the “not all men” argument. And in I Never Gave It Much Thought a woman (Susannah Cann) remembers her walk to work one dark winter’s morning, and the events that turned this ordinary day into anything but.

In covering four very different angles of the same topic, Cann – who also directs – makes a powerful point about the many different ways in which women can find ourselves at risk. Whether we’re walking to work, or on a date, or enjoying a night out with friends, or at the shops, or at home with our family, the chance of violence – and our awareness of that chance – is never far away. The four pieces are all extremely well performed by the cast, and though they’re all no more than ten minutes long, the characters are for the most part well written and easily relatable. The first and last stories are particularly haunting, for obvious reasons, but the other two play an equally important role in raising awareness for both male and female audiences.

As society continues to search for ways to prevent the continued violence women and girls suffer every day, Violent Circumstances offers its creators and audiences an outlet for the anger and fear we all live with. It’s an important play that deserves to have a future and to be seen and heard by more people – because in this particular fight, every little helps.

Violent Circumstances was performed at the Blue Elephant Theatre on 23rd and 24th February. For details about future performances, follow Act!ve Bitch Face Theatre on Instagram: @activebtchfacetheatre and Twitter: @abftheatre

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.