Set in an almost-Orwellian dystopia, Under My Thumb follows a group of six women in their fight against an oppressive, sexist culture. Much more information than that slight teaser would be a foray into unwanted spoiler territory, since an integral and thought-provoking element of this production is trying to work out what on earth is going on. A trail of breadcrumbs runs through the show as clues gradually establish the parameters of this new, twisted society piece-by-piece. Dropped straight into this world with no explanation or introduction, Under My Thumb is a challenging but expertly crafted piece of theatre.
“a brilliantly twisted and thought-provoking production”
In the battered basement of Assembly Roxy, Under My Thumb proves to be an intense and immersive production. Sat in traverse around the small stage, the audience are mere feet away from often visceral scenes, creating some truly flinch-inducing moments in the sixty-minute running time. But being up close and personal doesn’t seem to faze this talented cast. All six young actresses put in simply fantastic performances with a script which demands extreme and often heightened emotion. Characters go from cruel aggression to emotional hysteria, and the whole cast create a palpable sense of tension and instability, slowly rising as the play’s secrets are unveiled one by one.
At times, Under My Thumb is a tad heavy-handed in the writing and directing departments. Very little is left unsaid, opting for hyperbolic outbreaks rather than frustrated silence. At times, a little more subtlety wouldn’t go amiss, but since the cast take every moment and emotion in their stride, it never feels fake or overdone.
Under My Thumb is relentlessly brutal, and yet you can’t look away. It’s intensely dark in the most inspired and engaging manner, and proves a brilliantly twisted and thought-provoking production.
Assembly Roxy, 3rd – 20th August, 16:10
Image: CultureClash Theatre