A Shop Selling Speech - Review By Lucy Wakefield

Written by Sabrina Mahfouz                                                                           Performed by Flying High Theatre Company
Director: Carrie Bird
On 9th March 2014, I attended a performance of ‘A Shop Selling Speech’ at Bonnington Theatre, Arnold as a part of NationalTheatre Connections.
The setting for the play is a shop in Egypt which despite only having recently opened is already being targeted by three people who appear to be either robbers or activists however the reasons for their actions are not immediately clear.

As the play unfolds, the tension builds between the characters as threats are made by the activists to the staff and the staff member try to justify their own actions and methods for selling their ‘product’. Just as the pressure becomes almost too much, the audience learns that the intruders are actually on the side of the public as the shop is selling speech which they believe should be free which challenges the idea of the activists being ‘in the wrong’.

The artforms involved in this production were drama, acting and contemporary dance.

I attended this event because I was performing with my drama group, Junkshop Theatre Company at the same venue on the same evening.

My favourite part of the play was the contemporary dance and movement. This began with the staff members comically advertising their product almost like a scene from 
Laurel and Hardy and developed into a more graceful dance which included lifts and moves that looked like the characters were fighting for control.

I felt there was a lot of ‘dragging out’ of dialogue for instance when the individual characters took turns to speak about themselves, their hopes and dreams into a microphone.

I didn’t like the ending as it left the audience unsure as to whether a deal had been made regarding speech actually being free or not.   

I would recommend the play for people over 15 as I feel anyone younger may struggle to understand the subject of the play and some of the dialogue and action is quite violent e.g. when one of the robbers is bound and gagged this could be upsetting for some younger audience members.

I learnt that theatre can be used to present topical global subjects to a wider audience for example this play reflects a lot of unrest that is currently happening in the world…people fighting for their rights and beliefs including that of free speech. We should never take freedom of speech for granted!

I plan to share this review via my blog & link it to social media sites I use on a daily basis – Twitter, That's a Teens Life Facebook Page and Instagram.

I hope to attend theatre performances and possibly some other events that are relevant to my Art Practise.