Pardon / In Cuffs (3 stars)

This article is from 2015

Pardon / In Cuffs

Credit: Valentijn David Van Mieghem

Justice served cold in dark experimental vignettes

These short experimental vignettes, based on Magnum photographer Raymond Depardon's documentaries, show a disparate group of criminals and the lengths they will go to in trying to prove their innocence.

On a revolving circular stage under a stark light, a trio swap roles, bringing pathos, sexual tension and abrupt mood swings. Clara van den Broek, in evening gown and heels, brings spiked glamour to the role of both the imperious judge and HIV-positive prostitute, interrogating herself.

Korneel Hamers charges the air with menace, a brutish misogynist whose justification for beating his wife is simply that 'she is a woman'. Valentijn Dhaenens is a vulnerable man from Mali, or providing comic relief as a swindler performing a 'three-cup shuffle trick', his physicality either goofy or puppyish and sweet.

Their justifications become absurd, heart-rending or melodramatic and the rhythm veers between staccato bursts or languorous interludes. At times, the dialogue is so naturalistic it feels voyeuristic, like overhearing a medical diagnosis in a surgery.

The cast of three, who also knock out wheezing lounge versions of tunes, are superb, even if the format can feel contrived, rejecting conventional narratives for high drama. Yet the imagery and performances far outweigh such misgivings.

Traverse, 228 1404, until 30 Aug (not 17, 24), times vary, £18 (£8–£13).

Pardon / In Cuffs

  • 3 stars

SKaGeN, Richard Jordan Productions, Theatre Royal Plymouth, Big in Belgium Much is at stake for those who've just been caught in the act: either a judgement will be passed or they'll have a lucky escape. From the creators of BigMouth and SmallWar, and inspired by the documentaries of award-winning Magnum photographer…