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BWW Reviews: THE BITING POINT, Theatre503, February 18 2011


Ruth is refusing to come to terms with the recent past and the reality of her life now; Dennis finds himself trapped in a sordid mess very much of his own making; Malcolm is struggling to balance caring for his sister with trying to live his own life. The stories of these three people and how the personal affects and defines the political, often to extreme levels as a race riot approaches, make up The Biting Point, a new play by ShaRon Clark playing at Theatre503 in Battersea, directed by Dan Coleman.

Set in the political and social turmoil of the early 1980s in the UK, the play looks at how life experiences can shape extreme thinking whether through adverse personal circumstances, society failing to help those in need or moral weakness and how easily these things can influence the way in which lives are lived, jobs performed and ideologies followed. The three strands are separate but intertwined, Clark’s writing suggests the connections from the outset, with repeated motifs and phrases indicating that no matter how different people might perceive themselves to be, we’re all just the same under the skin.

Lizzie Roper’s Ruth is a magnificent performance, lent simplicity as a series of monologues but all the more gripping for it as an intensely emotional not quite capable of releasing her emotion. Gyuri Sarossy had a slightly tougher job, treading the thin line between self-confidence and arrogance with his Dennis embroiled in an affair with Jessica Barker-Wren’s nicely manipulative Anna. But Charlie Hollway was just excellent as Malc, struggling with the burden of being sole carer for his sister who has some unspecified learning difficulties whilst holding down a low-paid job, playing the controlled anger with great subtlety, leaving us highly unsure of how it will manifest itself. Victoria Bavister made the most of a small role as a harsh but seductive protestor.

As the play builds up to the riot and Clark reveals the true roles that her protagonists are set to perform, The Biting Point really succeeds in creating the most tense of atmospheres and forces us to question that things are rarely as black and white as we would like them to be, even in the case of political extremism, a point cleverly picked up by the seemingly unassuming set design from Mark Friend and Will Reynolds’ flashes of effective lighting. Perhaps predictably, the climax of the show as the paths of the three leads finally cross didn’t quite fly given the great set-up but in some respects it didn’t really matter as the play really is about peeling back the layers of motivation to question just what drives people to follow a particular ideology so forcefully.

The Biting Point is booking until 12th March

Rapid Write Response, a selection of short plays by emerging playwrights in response to The Biting Point, is bookable on 7th March

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