In the basement of a derelict building, Ivy squats on her own where one day a young girl Chloe has been chosen by her gang to break into the basement as a dare. Initially threatening, Chloe swiftly requiring help from the old lady for help. Their encounter is a study of the shifts and struggle of power and domination and through their exchanges, their difference in experience, knowledge and maturity, or the lack of it began to blur and a subtle common ground began to develop. At the same time, Chloe’s paranoia sets in with accusations of witchcraft and intoxication through Ivy’s extensive herbal and medicinal plant collection.
Written by Helena Thompson and based on a BBC radio 4 afternoon drama, this push and pull is the central theme of the play and is also the cause of confusion. The many ideas such as drug, youthful impatience, moments of kindness and bursts of anger make the characters somewhat ill-defined. Many aspects are left implicit: suitable for dramatic suspense but does little to the narrative.
It may be better off as a production of atmosphere and moods, and the space in the basement of a disused office building is well suited to the part of a squat of an old woman. This is undermined by the promenade nature and limited space, where the other audience members sometimes ended up being more prominent than the cast themselves, through no fault of their own.
The theatre company behind it, SPID, focuses on targeting non-traditional audiences. It certainly achieves this as most of those in the audience are younger than the average theatre crowd. Their thrill and excitement are at times more interesting than the play as the narrative drifts in and out of cohesion. The themes and the language certainly have a resonance with them. However, as a play, there are plenty that can be improved upon.