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Issue 1783 (PDF)
The student newspaper of Imperial College London


Keep the Cat Free


In a woman's troubled mind

A deeply unsettling adaptation of Rebecca Watson's 'Little Scratch' guides the audience through the disturbing daily thoughts of a rape victim

Image 2 Photo: Robert Day

Arts

in Issue 1783

Theatre

Little Scratch

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Where
Hampstead Theatre
When
Until 11th December, 2021
Cost
£10 (Students)

Unnerving, deep and wonderfully poetic, this adaptation directed by Katie Mitchell manages to perform a seemingly unmanageable task — to depict the complex internal monologue of a woman suffering from trauma and depression on stage.

The set arrangement is unlike anything I have ever seen before; there are four actors – Morónkẹ́ Akinọlá, Eleanor Henderson, Eve Ponsonby and Ragevan Vasan – each in black clothing that blends with the darkness of the setup, with nothing other than a beam of light illuminating their faces. Throughout the production, the voices of these actors blend with one another in a melodic flow, beautifully replicating the incessant chatter in the skull of a troubled individual.  

...a poetically captivating, journey through the mind of a fellow human being.

The voices of the actors guide the audience through a deceptively ordinary Friday in the life of an assistant, stuck at the bottom of the corporate hierarchy. She wakes up hungover, incapable of sorting out the mess in her kitchen, rushes to work via the London overground, waits for a WhatsApp message from her significant other – a mundane morning by all accounts. However, every single task is accompanied by bursts of her trauma bubbling up to the surface, distorting this mundane present with the darkness of her past. We hear her anxiety around the awkward greeting with her co-workers, her rush to get to lunch, and then to the end of the day. The boring tasks of her work are interwoven with deep anxiety about her life choices. She questions why she works at a job she hates, whether she will ever become a successful writer; these questions really bring her character to life and portray her as a deep and complex human. 

Image 1 Photo: Robert Day
Eve Ponsonby, Eleanor Henderson, Morónké Akinola and Ragevan Vasan in Little Scratch (L-R)

As she progresses through the day, a multitude of fragments from her trauma are revealed. These fragments are crisply underpinned by sound effects — the scratching of her nails against her skin as she self-harms, the monotonous hole-punching she must do as part of her dreadful job. It is impossible not to get deeply emotionally involved when the penetrating dullness of these sounds is set against the chorus of voices bringing up and pushing down the trauma. 

This adaptation is not suitable for those triggered by rape, sexual assault, or self-harm. Furthermore, it is definitely unsuitable for those looking to leave the theatre smiling and at peace. However, if you would like to go on a disturbing, yet poetically captivating, journey through the mind of a fellow human being, to see the world through the eyes of someone whose worldview has been shattered by trauma — this adaptation is a must-see.

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