Key Change by Open Clasp Theatre.

Combining physical theatre and an extremely well-scripted dialogue between the cast of five. Key Change is a story of friendship, abuse, drugs and a lifetime of unfortunate circumstances in which Lucy played by Cheryl Dixon and Angie played by Jessica Johnson find themselves meeting first in a women’s refuge after different journeys of tragedy and abuse. They later find themselves inside the same women’s prison.

Personally, I found the scenes in which they had their phone calls to home very moving and the conflict often escalated quickly as they vied for pole position as to who was going to get to speak to their loved ones first. The women hang onto the phone tightly in order to get every drop out of their conversations with children, grandchildren and loved ones. Fighting to hold their positions in the queue with such passion there was no doubt that the audience could see just how important that grasp on the normality of everyday life was so important to each of the female inmates.

This project was funded in 1998 and based in Newcastle upon Tyne the play Key Change is based on stories from working with women inside the prison and their honest accounts of the circumstances in which they find themselves ending up inside the prison walls. This play was later performed in male prisons too as many perpetrators could see the effects of their actions.

Writer Catrina McHugh MBE along with director Laura Lindow brilliantly created a truthful and explosive production about the stories leading up to why women can find themselves in prison. Often we only see an unflattering picture of the person sentenced and rarely hear their voice or the true story of why they ended up in there.

The key point for many survivors of domestic abuse is that they don’t wish to be seen as victims they wish to be seen as survivors. This I can agree with on a personal level and the part in which they discuss the ladies empowering themselves by taking part in the Freedom Programme I can say from experience you learn an awful lot about understanding how different abusers use the same tactic in order to win over their victims. A link to this programme will be available at the end of this review.

The fast pace in which this 60-minute production moves at mimics the chaos in which many of these women have led their lives up to the point in which they arrive inside a prison. The frank and openness about Angie’s drug addiction was a refreshing account and it didn’t gloss over and romanticise anything which can often be the case in some productions. Her performance is a very honest and open account of how she would score and to what extent it impacted her day to day existence.

I would highly recommend that anyone who has not yet seen this production to try and do so while it’s still available on YouTube the link is available below.

Five Stars.

Writer Catrina McHugh MBE

Director Laura Lindow.


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