Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff, Sun 12 Oct.
Set in a bus stop, SOLD is a drama about six victims of human trafficking. There’s the seasoned prostitute with a sassy attitude and Pretty Woman boots; a young Polish girl lured to the UK by offers of a modelling contract; the twelve-year-old who climbs into cars with his ‘new daddy’ every night.
Then a Russian bride; the local drug dealer; a wife whose husband offers her body around to his friends when he loses at poker.
Given the subject matter, I didn’t expect a laugh a minute. But I also didn’t expect to be bored, which sadly was the result of such over-egged repetition of cruelty and misery, especially when combined with acting so awkward it made the whole audience shiver.
The format became tiresome. One after another, the characters would break from the present and perform a monologue about their past. The stories were harrowing- the play was written from real life testimonies of victims- but the shock-value diminished with each case.
The Rastafarian drug dealer was the highlight, promising the ‘revolution would come soon’ and firing out comic lines like ‘I’m a local celebrity- every policeman knows who I am’. His soliloque- about how as a child he was beaten and forced to listen while men raped his mother- was all the more poignant for its juxtaposition with the cheeky chappie repertoire played out earlier.
SOLD was successful in raising awareness to the plight of people who’ve been abused and commodified. But I left with the guilty sense that it also dramatized real pain and offered it up as entertainment, without providing any insightful analysis or redemption. It was a kind of ‘misery porn’; titillation through the horror of human suffering. I wasn’t SOLD on it.
words: MADLEN DAVIES
Cardiff & Vale College, Barry, Mon 21 Oct.
Sherman Theatre, Cardiff, Tues 22 Oct. Tickets: £8 – £10. Info: 02920 064 6900 / www.shermancymru.co.uk
Studio Y Ffwnes, Llanelli, Wed 23 & Thurs 24 Oct. Tickets: £8 – £10. Info: 0845 226 3510 /www.carmarthenshiretheatres.co.uk
Theatr Soar, Merthyr Tydfil, Thurs 7 Nov. Info: 01685 722 176 / www.theatrsoar.co.uk
Aberystwyth University, Aberystwyth, Sat 9 November.