Home » London Theatre Reviews » Class by Alyce Louise-Potter at Tristan Bates Theatre | Review

Class by Alyce Louise-Potter at Tristan Bates Theatre | Review

Class by Alyce Louise-PotterAlyce Louise-Potter’s verbatim two-hander does the remarkable: it takes subject matter that is literally the essence of Marxism and manages not to preach, but instead rather warmly conspires with the audience. Class employs ‘recorded delivery’, whereby the documentary subjects’ interviews are played in the performers’ ears via headphones as they simultaneously convey their stories. Far from feeling like a gimmick or a distancing mechanism, the effect is refreshing; we are drawn into the joyous abandon of trusting our ears. Filtering and judging are wonderfully difficult (if not impossible) such that, for once, we don’t have to try to park our prejudices. We simply have no choice but to listen and connect. As if possessed by a benevolent spirit, we find ourselves chortling freely and happily – moved and in-the-moment without any effort or conceit.

The introductory programme notes of the play explain with some detail the recorded delivery technique and verbatim storytelling concept. The programme’s wording is perhaps a little clunky and labours the performers’ working class bona fides but so what? Our expectations may be dampened by unpolished publicity bumph, but our spirits soon soar thanks to Class’s undeniable commitment, quality and adventure of form. It is thrilling to leave your cognitive confinement and be transported into these coming-of-age and coming-of-consciousness tales from ‘council estate kids’ or ‘tradesmen’.

Bursting onto the stage to a beloved disco anthem about love, author-performer Alyce Louise-Potter and her co-star Kelsey Short are infectiously cheerful and immediately appealing – even if we find ourselves exploring the nature of stigma and deprivation in a matter of minutes. But the struggles and interior worlds we are offered are no poverty porn nor sentimentalised cockney-pluck. We are given true stories from true people whose dramatic interest is legitimate by virtue of the nature of their experiences, not by dint of quota or cliché.

Less than an hour and composed as a series of first-person vignettes, this work is intimate, compelling and connective. There is, however, no conventional plot nor traditional dramatic construct. It is delicious and feels like a brilliant workshop, but we are left dangling.

No matter what, witnessing Class feels like a privilege. However, one can’t help wondering how the power of these potent reflections could enhance a more typically-plotted dramatic work. Would the natural music and psychologically-intimate portraits of Class provide both much-needed truth and representation to the big proscenium houses and film studios — or would it be eaten alive? For the sake of honestly connecting and pumping exciting new blood into the theatre, let’s hope the energy and empathy of CLASS take hold far beyond the John Thaw Studio. I suspect that Louise-Potter and Short are going places such that in the coming years more people than the studio’s capacity permits will lie about having caught this 2019 show at the Tristan Bates Theatre back in the day.

Louise-Potter and Short are talents to cherish and nurture. Class in its current form is a raw exhibition – don’t expect a magnum opus but if you want to be reminded why new voices matter and need hope that they just might heard, make sure you catch one of their shows.

4 stars

Review by Mary Beer

Spur of the Moment presents Class a new verbatim play which will be performed by Alyce Louise-Potter and Kelsey Short. You will hear stories from working class people from all ages and ethnicities. By using the magical words from people, talking about class, gives us an honest response to what they think their identity is and how they see their self in society. The stories shared in this piece are from people who may not usually be heard in theatre, which is why we have created Class. Spoken word poetry will also be shared.

‘When I put my uniform on, my social class doesn’t mean a thing’

Alyce Louise-Potter
Kelsey Short

Lighting Designer Ali Armstrong
Director Xander Mars

Spur of the Moment presents
by Alyce Louise-Potter
21st & 22nd March 2019


  • Mary Beer

    Mary graduated with a cum laude degree in Theatre from Columbia University’s Barnard College in New York City. In addition to directing and stage managing several productions off-Broadway, Mary was awarded the Helen Prince Memorial Prize in Dramatic Composition for her play Subway Fare whilst in New York. Relocating to London, Mary has worked in the creative sector, mostly in television broadcast and production, since 1998. Her creative and strategic abilities in TV promotion, marketing and design have been recognised with over 20 industry awards including several Global Promax Golds. She is a founder member of multiple creative industry and arts organisations and has frequently served as an advisor to the Edinburgh International TV Festival.

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