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Review of I know I Know I Know at Southwark Playhouse

The breakneck pace that I Know I Know I Know begins with isn’t sustained to the end – if it were, it could probably be done and dusted in an arts festival-friendly sixty minutes. While the slower pace in the later scenes reflects their relatively reflective nature, these are, at the end of the day, characters who still have most of the rest of their lives ahead of them. That said, some youthful energy is sustained throughout, and Alice Myers (Hannah Khalique-Brown) strikes a note of defiance in the closing moments.

Photo credit EllieKurttz - I know I know I know.
Photo credit EllieKurttz – I know I know I know.

Max (Ethan Moorhouse) is, according to Hannah (Martha Watson Allpress), “famous”, although he only grudgingly accepts this when he realises he can no longer go about his everyday business without being recognised and stopped. A long opening monologue from Alice is interspersed with conversations between Max and Hannah, which is slightly disorienting but also helps concentrate the mind on what begins as an innocuous young lady’s account of her current life at university and recollections of going to Max’s gigs.

Key to the narrative is ‘You’re Still the One’, recorded by Canadian singer Shania Twain, and reworked by Max as – wait for it – a rock anthem. The song was written by Twain and Robert John ‘Mutt’ Lange, a record producer to who she was married. The substantial age difference between the two was commented on at the time, with suspicions raised as to whether Twain was jumping into bed with Lange in order to help realise her career ambitions. The lyrics are a response to such criticisms, and although their relationship eventually ended, this didn’t happen until some years after the song was released.

There is something broadly similar going on with Max and Alice, in the sense that their relationship defied the odds. Such is the nature of live touring, however, that there were times when the pair did not see each other in person for some time. Let’s just say that Alice wasn’t the only young, impressionable woman that enjoyed Max’s company, but her eventual decision to go to the press means a big, juicy journalistic scoop is about to be read by the masses, and it doesn’t bode well for Max’s career.

There are, perhaps surprisingly, some humorous moments, not only in the reminiscence of good times, but also in the ‘present’. There are some broken and stilted sentences which, while somewhat frustrating to listen to, are credibly indicative of the difficulty in expressing complex emotions. It’s not the easiest of narratives to navigate, either in terms of content or structure, but its message about speaking up rather than letting things slide is one worth heeding. A bold and challenging production.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

What would you do if the whole world was singing along to a song about the worst night of your life?

Hannah and Max are driving to a wedding. When they get out of the car, they’re never going to speak again. 50 miles away, Alice is talking to a journalist. When the article goes to print, her life is going to change completely.

A play about who we believe, who we brush under the carpet, and what happens when they claw their way out.

This production is presented in association with the Harlow Playhouse Trust and is made possible due to support from Arts Council England and the Harlow Playhouse.

Previous praise for Flora’s writing:

“It draws you in and spits you out the other end, a bit battered and devastated.” Noises Off on TANYA

“Wit, flair, and devastating honesty… a testament to the brilliance of Flora Wilson Brown’s script.” Noises Off on to the moors

Recommended for ages 14+.

Creative Team
Director Harry Tennison
Set and Costume Designer Victoria Maytom
Lighting Designed by Ryan Day
Sound Designer Anna Short
Stage Manager Grace Hans
Producer Emily Hunter Oulton

Hannah Khalique-Brown
Ethan Moorhouse
Martha Watson Allpress

6 – 16 APR 2022

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