Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere @ Young Vic Theatre
Cast: Paul Mason, Khalid Abdalla, Lara Sawalha and Sirine Saba
Running Time: 2 hours, no interval. (Show is 1 hour, with preshow and after show discussions.)
Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere feels special – not only is it being recorded for BBC TV and being shown at a later date, but also it feels lucky to even have a ticket, having won the free ballot. The show, which is a premiere for Mason, and his theatrical debut, charts the rising amounts of revolution since approximately 2011 through to the present day, from Cairo and Greece to Trump and the USA. Whilst it subject matter can be quite heavy at times due to its political nature, it has some really exciting moments and makes the audience think.
The nature of the show makes it feel at once very fresh and also harks back to the origins of theatre in Greece – to experience and think about the problem and then debate and question it afterwards – especially with the pre-show workshop and after-show discussion, it echoes the idea of the agora in Ancient Greece.
Mason has also crafted a work that, while it is narratively linear and mainly driven by his narration, is inherently theatrical in its storytelling – how this will play out on screen will be seen later. The cast are all strong, portraying the many people that Mason meets through his journalism, and Mason himself portrays a version of himself in the piece.
The piece is also exceptionally contemporary – it feels very ‘now’ and that in six months’ time would require revisions and changes – this is parts of the strength of staging something like this, and the ephemerality of theatre suits the nature of the show well.
The staging of the piece is interesting, though occasionally hits snags – the audience is invited to move around the space, however, the piece rarely settles for long and few take advantage of this. This means there is a lot of twisting and stretching to see the work, and occasionally draws away from the piece. It does, though, manage to make the audience feel like one, and part of a shared experience more than many pieces achieve.
Summary: A timely piece that highlights issues and injustice, and makes the audience feel about their place in the world. ****