Little Stitches, Theatre 503 – theatre review

Teen angst: Shalini Peiris in Mutant ©Alastair Muir–theatre-review-9690887.html

I’ll be honest: my heart sank at the prospect of an evening of four short plays on the hateful subject of female genital mutilation (FGM). I feared worthiness and preaching to the converted: it’s probably not fringe theatre aficionados in Battersea who most need their minds changed. Yet BAREtruth Theatre Company presents a thought-provoking, artistically valid selection of work that, crucially, will also undertake a series of free performances in libraries around London. I wish them a bumper turn-out for this admirable undertaking.

The first play offered by director Alex Crampton, Sleight of Hand from Royal Court Young Writers’ Programme graduate Isley Lynn, is also the most accomplished, craftily insinuating that every member of society, no matter what they do, could potentially have a role to play in stopping the mutilation of vulnerable young women. We hear feisty, interlinking monologues from a teacher, an air hostess, an ice cream van man and a postwoman; they have an uneasy feeling that something isn’t right but will they have the courage to speak up in time?

Mutant, by Karis E Halsall, sees 14-year-old Safa (Shalini Pieris) full of beans at the start of the school holidays. However, a most unwelcome visitor awaits her at home and it is as if a light switch is flicked off in this appealing actress’s face after she suffers the barbaric act.

The verbatim testimony from a FGM survivor speaks most forcefully: “If this was being done to men, I think it would have been sorted out a long time ago, but because it’s being done to black and brown girls, we’re down the list”. Not any longer, thankfully.

by Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard