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Stuart King

Review: PARLIAMENT SQUARE at the Bush Theatre

Parliament Square A woman leaves her suburban family environment, intent on awakening collective consciousness and changing society, by committing a single shocking act.

Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre previously played host to James Fritz’s “Parliament Square” which has just transferred to The Bush Theatre for a limited London run.

Jude Christian directs his cast of 7 performers who present 14 roles on Fly Davis’s minimalist set, with the audience intimately enveloping the playing area on four sides.

Central to the piece is young married mother Kat (played with emotional and physical integrity by Esther Smith) who is guided through the traumatic build-up to her life-changing, Parliament Square “event”, by her subconscious self (Lois Chimimba). This subtly nuanced and sensitively, sometimes amusingly handled opening section of the play, beautifully sets-up the far more traumatic and unsettling events to come.

The supporting characters (husband, mother, physio etc) by means of quick-fire, dialogue exchanges, ably and assuredly assist Kat’s passage through time. This is most notably achieved during a montage in which revelations and secrets are variously retained and divulged interspersed between chopped renderings of “Happy Birthday”, sung to her daughter as the years pass.

Every member of the (2 men and 5 women) cast, has moments to shine and each gives an excellent account of him or herself. Despite the sometimes uncomfortable nature of the scenes, the overall result is a very accomplished piece of storytelling which broadly questions the roles individuals can play and the impact they can exert on both short and long term personal situations and on society as a whole.