Review: Key Change

Open Clasp Theatre Company
Summerhall, Summerhall Place, Edinburgh EH9 1PL, Until August 31st 2015
4 Stars (4 / 5)

Inmates of Low Newton Prison – all female – devised this play and first toured it around men’s prisons. Key Change follows the stories of four women, their sentences and how their lives lead them to it.

I was expecting some hard core, back-rubbing feminist messages with man-bashing undertones and a moral streak that we could all ‘mmm’ and sip herbal tea at. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

A deeply felt and sensitive portrayal of women in difficult times – far more anti-bullying and anti- victimhood than anti-man – Key Change is a beautifully written piece; funny, heart breaking and genuine with believable character history.

The acting is wonderful. Just when you think you have picked out the star of the show, the next leading lady would appear with something even more profound about her performance. Their sorrow, laughter and the sisterly intimacy between cast members is palpable.

The choreography is simple and tasteful, giving enough of a physical theatre element to help the show transition smoothly without making it ‘Prison – An Interpretive Dance’ and with nothing more than a few rolls of masking tape, some chairs and a table- this is a minimal prop usage at it’s finest.

Hit and miss music choice lost Key Change its final star. It needed something more edgy than a sudden blast of Florence and The Machine to help those dramatic scenes pack a punch. Fat Boy Slim sets the pace beautifully in the nightclub/fight scene and gives a clear idea of era- but musical choices are too inconsistent to allow the play to flow as it could.