Stitching is not a play for everyone.
Stitching has been banned in some countries, including Malta due to its blasphemeic and sexually explicit references and hard-core sexual reenactments amongst other complaints.
It takes a brave cast, producer and director to bring this play back to life after much debated controversy. Thankfully House of Wolf Productions have put together a great show.
Anthony Neilson’s Stitching is a complicated production about love and loss in its entirety. It’s dark, raw, disgusting, upsetting and challenging to watch. It touches on the darkest of fears, desires and the human condition. It is not a play for those easily offended, although it’s not all dark, Pip Minnithorpe has beautifully injected humour and moments of lightness that lift the production. I laughed as much as I was upset.
Stitching is a 2-hander production that spans multiple time zones, it has twists that you don’t see coming and darkness that will upset you to your stomach. It is a play that makes you question your choices, your sexual fetishes, your relationships and why you are with someone. What does it mean to be with someone for better for worse till death us do part! It touches on many themes within the human condition and struggle (although I have chosen not to write about these so I don’t give away any of the plot un-necessarily).
The piece is skilfully performed by Adam Howden (Stu) and Sarah Harkins (Abby). Their execution is on point, their on-stage chemistry is electric and they are fully believable, they bring Anthony Neilson’s characters alive with a savage fierce, cruel, and violent love that is hard to penetrate as an outsider.
The piece has been staged in the round, not a natural choice for The White Bear Theatre, which brings the audience closer to the action and implicates us as voyeur in their sexual games. Usually when a director opts to perform in the round I sigh and wonder why they are making extra demands on themselves, for Stitching this works perfectly and I think had I been sat in a traditional proscenium set up I think it would have been easier to detach myself from the piece and characters.
At only an hour long the production is intense, it has one fixed set that the performers work around beautifully – a minimal bedroom, there is a bed (beneath it is packed up and stored children’s toys) and other bedroom furniture.
Due to the lack of scene changes, the piece uses sound, music and lighting to change scenes and time periods. The soundtrack works in perfect harmony with the production and moves the story along nicely.
In essence, if you’re offended by the works of theatre iconoclasts Sarah Kane (Blasted) and/or Mark Ravenhill (Shopping and Fucking) or even Laura Wade (Posh) then stay away from this production is will upset and anger you. You may even walk out (as many have in the past).
I personally LOVED this production and happily award it 5 stars, I also own copies of the above mentioned play texts and find value in the works. House of Wolf Productions have partnered with a Charity for Domestic Violence against women in the UK for this production.
Review by Faye Stockley
We will fix it. We will mend it…
In the light of a pregnancy, a faithless couple pick apart their relationship, stitch by painful stitch. Can it be mended?Anthony Neilson’s dark and intimate play is a love story set at the extremes of brutality, banality and tenderness. House of Wolf proudly revives Stitching, which premiered in 2002 drawing controversy and great acclaim:
The White Bear Theatre
138 Kennington Park Rd
London SE11 4DJ
Performance dates and times:
29th September to 17th October, 2015
Tuesday to Saturday at 7.00pm
Sunday at 4.00
Friday 2nd October 2015