Key Change (3 stars)

This article is from 2015

Key Change

credit: Keith Pattison

Devised theatre piece exploring female lawbreakers

Newcastle company Open Clasp's Key Change scrutinises a life of crime using the real voices of inmates, devised by writer / artistic director Catrina McHugh with HMP-YOI Low Newton.

This commendable project, with fierce choreography by Holly Irving, features a quintet of women having fun with the sparse staging, using masking tape to cordon off territories. They come across like a dysfunctional family unit as stories of teen pregnancy, unstable families and the spectre of domestic violence overlap, becoming white noise.

Yet the detached tone, sometimes jocular (as evinced by the fight scene soundtracked by Florence and the Machine's controversially jaunty ‘A Kiss With a Fist’), creates a certain lack of warmth, sacrificing an intimacy with its characters.

Jessica Johnson as drug addict Angie is excellent, infusing her role with equal parts swagger and haunted vulnerability, as she describes the cocooning effects of heroin. Matriarch Kim (Judi Earl) also impresses, capricious as a tiger. And the device of counting the days left of respective sentences as '29 sleeps' brings heart-squeezing humanity, evoking the saucer-eyed anticipation of good children at Christmas time, in this solid, if a tad unemotional production.

Northern Stage at Summerhall, 560 1581, until 30 Aug (not 12,19, 26), 12.30pm, £12 (£10).

Key Change

  • 3 stars

Open Clasp Theatre Company in association with Live Theatre The prison van, fences high, a magpie. 'One for sorrow. Snatched the babies. The mother fought, but it was too big and flew too high.’ Devised by women from HMPYOI Low Newton and originally toured to male prisons, Key Change is a raw and illuminating portrayal of…