The Royal Court Theatre is renowned for its dedication to new and exciting writing and performance which addresses the issues and complications relevant to the social climate in which we live. Its program of exciting and interesting plays held at the Jerwood downstairs theatre executes their mission statement wonderfully and Ding Dong the Wicked is no exception.
“A child is shut in her room, a dog is dead in the road, someone is kissing her brother-in-law. A family locked in hatred is sending a son to war. And meanwhile in another country…”
Ding Dong the Wicked is a short play written by Caryl Churchill and currently being performed at the Royal Court Theatre in Sloane Square. A punchy and straight to the point piece of performance, the play effectively and efficiently portrays two sides of a scenario using the same dialogue twice and keeps the viewer hocked and intrigued throughout.
The play begins with a set of characters discussing and preparing for a member of the family to leave for war. A rich set of interactions between characters paint a vivid picture of the realities of family life whilst injecting glimmers of humour into the serious subject matter.
The scene appears black and the stage is reversed completely to mirror itself; the same actors then proceed to speak the same dialogue, albeit in an altered order, and act out a completely different set of characters in the same scenario.
The play is showing a direct comparison between the two sides of war. It brings humanity into the subject of war and addresses the one-sided approach people often take. Although different characters are present in the two halves of the performance, the actors, dialogue, props and scenario are all mirrored showing the similarities of opposing sides.
The play is an extremely intelligent piece of writing by Churchill, and is superbly performed by the small pool of company actors. Between the two halves of the performance, the characters are transformed and easily identifiable from their predecessors in the body language, tone and appearance of all the actors involved. A real stand-out performance was by that of Claire Foy who plays “young woman holding a flower” in the first scene and “young woman with a cigarette” in the second. Her transformation and mannerisms perfectly fit each character and lead the performance, guiding the audience through the increasingly similar narrative of the scenes.
An extremely intelligent and entertaining play, Ding Dong the Wicked is a definite must-see, showing at the Royal Court until 13th October. The short play poses a great social commentary and vivid acting all set within the wonderful theatre location which hosts an intimate bar and plenty of things to excite the mind.