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Greater London
posted/updated: 03 Oct 2011 -
Under the Concrete, Waiting
Sarah Wooley
society/company: Arts Educational Schools London
performance date: 15 Jul 2011
venue: Cone Ripman House, London
reviewer/s: The Countess (Sardines Review)

Drama school showcases are always a minefield as there always tends to be a focus on who is cast in which role. Very few plays have an evenly spread cast and so the audience inevitably wonders if those cast with larger parts have been so for a reason. There is also not necessarily the same depth of roles for men and women alike.

Under the Concrete, Waiting conjured up all sorts of imaginings as we waited for the performance to begin. We had deliberately not conducted any previous research and cast details did not allude to anything. Murder and/or council estates were the first things that came to mind - thankfully (or not) we were spot on.

As stated on, “the piece is set on a Glasgow housing estate where “women working in the nearby factory start to go missing. At first the murders appear to be the work of a serial killer but it soon emerges that this is a case of a 'group' of men organising themselves to get their revenge on the women. This play was inspired by events in the Mexican town of Ciudad Juarez. Since 1993 it is estimated that as many as 250 women and girls have been raped and murdered in this border town. The authorities immediately suspected a serial killer and eventually a man, was arrested. He was tried, found guilty and imprisoned. However, after his arrest the murders still continued.”

Obviously a very cheerful evening was had by all.

I think this is one of the singularly depressing plays ever seen. Not only for the plot but the glaring fact that there are millions of people that live in exactly these circumstances up and down the country and other countries beyond. ArtsEd’s newly graduated MA students carefully portrayed the hardships and desperation felt – firstly brought on by a fairly miserable existence and then furthermore the murders. One might argue not all the characterisations were spot on but then presumably they followed the Director’s wishes. This is meant to showcase the actors’ talents and that it did very well.

The cast was a mixed bag; varying ages, looks and personalities all provided a differing piece for the jigsaw that was this play. The atrocities of the story enabled them to exhibit a whole gamut of emotions, reactions and interactions; some subtle, some large and domineering. The contrasts were effective and made the audience feel for certain characters, whilst loathing others. The accurate portrayals enabled one to feel the pain and devastation at their loss whilst quietly championing their small victory by the play’s end. As this was a final showcase, I feel it would be churlish to mention any actors in person for individual praise.

London’s West End is often feted for the continued quality of productions and the vast talent seen onstage every night. I am sure this talented group will be seen on stage and screen over the coming years…

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