Ruckus ★★★ Southwark Playhouse | October 5 - 29, 2022

Ruckus begins with a confrontational encounter in a pub. Lou is at a hen party, and she meets Ryan who is out for a drink with work colleagues. He pursues her, and they begin what looks like a model relationship. However, as the show moves forward it traces the descent of this apparently perfect pairing into an instance of dehumanising psychological abuse. As the clock ticks down, Lou's self-esteem and sense of independent agency is slowly undermined, and we see her sense of helplessness and hopelessness grow. This is a one-woman show written by Jenna Fincken, and she portrays both Lou and her whole coterie of friends and colleagues. Matthew Durkan as Ryan is a voice-over that haunts both Lou and the audience. The show is presented from the principal character's perspective as she looks back on her experience, and it is, perhaps, this decision that leads to a sense that the tone of the show is rather unvarying. There are some humorous moments with jokes at the expense of Lou's acquaintances, but the show is fuelled from beginning to end with the main character's justifiable anger. And, because the work seems to be written in a single key, we do rather miss the nuances of Lou's character and lose the arc of her gradual realisation of the oppressive nature of her relationship. Coercive control is a horrifying, and all too common, situation in which many women find themselves, and Ruckus is to be lauded for its admirable intention of raising awareness of this reprehensible reality.

Rated: ★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Ali Wright.

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