A Shop Selling Speech - Review By Evie Wakefield

Written by Sabrina Mahfouz – British-Egyptian poet and playwright; she is the current recipient of a 2013 Sky Arts Futures Fund Award for her poetry work.
Directed by Carrie Bird.                                                                                         Performed by Flying High Theatre Company.
I saw this on the 9th March (Bonnington Theatre, Arnold) as a part of ‘National Theatre Connections 2014’ programme.
The play is set in a newly opened shop in Cairo, Egypt which is currently under armed robbery.

To begin with it isn’t obvious what the armed robbers are trying to steal. However, as the play progresses and explores the themes of freedom, power, gender, greed and revolution, it becomes clear that they are trying to steal Speech as they believe it should be free. The performance begins with the robbery already in progress with tumbled boxes, three agitated robbers, four scared and one arrogant shop staff members.

During the play, the audience learns more about each character, their pasts, personalities, hopes and dreams.

The artforms involved in this production were drama, comedy, dance/movement, mime, and sound effects.

I thought the tone for this play was tense and thought-provoking, with some humour and emotion. One of the cast members allowed himself to be bound and gagged with masking tape, for quite a long time; which added to the tension.

My favourite aspects of the play were the two strong independent female characters (both the lead robber and the young woman in charge of the shop) which made it more interesting as this seems quite rare in theatre.There was also a beautifully choreographed movement sequence when the shop staff ‘advertises’ their product, Speech.

Unfortunately, it was unclear when the play ended, as it seemed to fizzle out. I feel the playwright could have shortened the play and given it a stronger ending. There was no problem with projection and lines were delivered beautifully.  

Although that is recommended for 14+ I would say that anyone over the age of 10 could watch and understand this production, as there is no offensive language and the point of the play (we all have the right of free speech) is presented well.

-Evie Wakefield