- Katharine Gemmell
- 24 August 2018
A necessary perspective in light of the #MeToo movement
Written and performed by Tom Radcliffe, VELVET is a solo play about the lengths a young actor could go for success, and the people in power willing to take advantage of this. It stars Radcliffe as a struggling actor who is offered the chance to meet a high-flying casting director (known only as Sir), but only if he does his sexual bidding.
It bounces between monologues of banal everyday life (struggling to keep up a relationship with a boring banker, going back to his small hometown and dealing with a successful rival from acting school), back to WhatsApp conversations played aloud — the seedy underbelly of the protagonist's life.
This is #MeToo from the perspective of a gay man, and the sleazy power plays which Sir uses to manipulate the hopeful actor is a hard watch. When it turns out that 'Sir' was never going to give him a starring role in his new movie and the victim threatens to go to the press, Sir releases his sex video as revenge porn. It's horrifying as the video is played on stage and the audiences can see and feel how the victim – and not the predator – is shamed.
A poignant moment comes near the conclusion as the monologue turns directly towards the #MeToo movement. He questions how this can be abuse when abuse towards women is more direct and brutal – he asks if he, in fact, did this to himself. The self-blame is devastating and shines a light on the complexity of the matter and just how easy it is to victim-blame. The piece is ultimately subtle, brutal and necessary.
Pleasance, until 27 Aug, 2pm, £12.50 (£10.50)