5-star Spine by Clara Brennan at Soho Theatre
First performed as a short piece as part of Theatre Uncut in 2012, Spine went on (quite rightly) to win a number of awards at The Edinburgh Festival in 2014 including a Fringe First and a Herald Angel Award, and now it’s back – and two years on, it feels even more urgent and politically relevant.
It’s a beautiful play. Simple, clean and yet punctuated with an honesty and an integrity that is rare in monologue shows. There’s not a word out of place in Clara Brennan’s writing or Bethany Pitt’s excellent direction. But it is Rosie Wyatt’s performance as ex-girl- gang member Amy that elevates the play to an extraordinary experience. Wyatt truly inhabits the roles of both Amy and Glenda, the aging activist pensioner that Amy befriends, bringing them a warmth and humanity that I’ve never seen before. It’s a very special performance. Wyatt’s Amy makes you laugh, makes you properly think, and at times feel your heart is being dragged from your chest and stamped on. She’s absolutely superb.
Alison Neighbour’s set complements the themes and the tone of the play with its complex simplicity, which is really part of Spine’s charm. It feels like a simple story, but it’s much deeper and more radical than it might appear. Through Glenda, Brennan reminds us that people used to believe in change, that people died for democracy, that so much of what we are witnessing in contemporary politics is the dismantling of the dreams that people fought for. She challenges us to ask questions, to inform ourselves, to be radical.
Yes, Spine is a call to arms, but it’s more than that – it’s a reminder of a time when people were revolutionaries when they believed that armed with purpose and anger we really could make a change to the world. But it’s funny too, and full of heart. Impossible not to love.
Review by Roz Wyllie
From fast-rising playwright Clara Brennan and starring actress Rosie Wyatt comes critically lauded, award-winning hit, Spine.
Hilarious and heartbreaking, Spine charts the explosive friendship between a ferocious wise-cracking teenager Amy and a mischievous activist pensioner. Glenda is hell-bent on leaving a political legacy for her community, and saving Amy because ‘there’s nothing more terrifying than a teenager with something to say’.
In an era of political disillusionment and generational divides, has politics forgotten the people it represents? And, what price do we put on knowledge? Amy is about to find out.
SPINE TOUR 2016
Mon 12 Sep – Sat 12 Nov 2016
Running Time: 65mins
Age Recommendation: 15+