Little Stitches at Theatre503 | Theatre review

Little Stitches deals with the frankly harrowing topic of female genital mutation (FGM). The production is split into four distinct plays that are united in their easy conversational tone and by an overall structure pushing the show towards a sobering and impressive climax. Each individual play represents one scene – or slice of history – in the larger drama that is FGM, using a variety of perspectives to show its dangers and presence in the wider world.

But you need not worry about it being too depressing, bleak or confrontational; the show is here to raise awareness, not to lecture. The theatre is a source of escapism and joy and such serious topics can seem out of place. Little Stitches, however, does not fail to entertain. The opening play features five individuals who each encounter FGM in some distant way through their different lines of work. The characterisations are rich and varied, each complementing the other as they fluently dip in and out of rapid, crisp monologues. The clarity and diversity of speech is a real marvel to behold, particularly Shuna Snow’s electric elocution played throughout. The style of the opening play is reminiscent of Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad and serves to give a comedic undertone that is open and familiar, jarring spectacularly with the presence of FGM.

This jarring of the ordinary with the barbaric runs across the entire performance and is equally entertaining and disturbing. The show satiates the crude thirst for information whilst not being too crude itself. Shalini Peiris gives a striking and memorable performance in the final play as a happy school girl who is suddenly thrust under knife, which is both uncomfortably bold and deeply affecting all at once. The intelligence of the writing almost disguises this serious message, but beneath the smiles and side jokes, this is exactly what the performance is aiming for. Apart from a spell to the frontline in Africa all the characters are based in London, and the blaring motif of the production is FGM’s integration within our own society. Instead of turning our head at what is “not [our] responsibility” we need to know what it is that is happening around us and how to combat it. Little Stitches is a pleasing and informative place to look.

by Alex Finch, The Upcoming