‘It demands that you listen’: Hear Me Howl – Old Red Lion Theatre

In London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Reviews, Ticket recommendations by Ian FosterLeave a Comment

Old Red Lion Theatre, London – until 29 September 2018

Jess is pretty sure she’s a grown-up. She can make a granary loaf from scratch; she’s got a steady job (even if she’s forgotten to order the paper clips); hell, she’s even got an ISA. It might only have 50 quid in it but baby steps… She’s also booked in for her first smear test but when the results come up with something unexpected, she decides that she’s in a rut she wants to get out of.

Only problem is, everyone has a lot to say about that. Lydia Rynne’s solo play Hear Me Howl is about a woman’s right to choose. About if and when to become a mother, if and when to adhere to societal conventions, if and when it is ever right to get lost in the noise of a drum solo… And performed with uncompromising directness by Alice Pitt-Carter, it demands that you listen.

As Jess ricochets from friends to family members, all offering their own take on the news of her pregnancy, she finds solace in taking drum lessons and when the opportunity presents itself to go on tour with a post-punk band, it becomes clear that this choice is a definitive one for her. And if Rynne’s writing is clearly pro-choice, it works because it finds its power in the specificity here, rather than making declarative statements about all of womenkind.

Director Kay Michael has stripped back the Old Red Lion’s space so that there’s only a drum kit and Pitt-Carter and it is a strikingly bold choice. Jess’ story is intermittently embellished with crashes of cymbals and thumps of drums, a way of working through the intense emotions of fear and frustration through to hope and self-actualisation, and as she reclaims her voice, channeling her anger, Pitt-Carter makes sure we believe every single word.

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Ian Foster
Since 2003, Ian Foster has been writing reviews of plays, sometimes with a critical element, on his blog Ought to Be Clowns, which has been listed as one of the UK's Top Ten Theatre Blogs by Lastminute.com, Vuelio and Superbreak. He averages more than 350+ shows a year. He says: "Call me a reviewer, a critic or a blogger, and you will apparently put someone or other's nose out of joint! So take it or leave it, essentially this is my theatrical diary, recording everything I go to see at the theatre in London and beyond, and venturing a little into the worlds of music and film/TV where theatrical connections can be made."
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Ian Foster on FacebookIan Foster on Twitter
Ian Foster
Since 2003, Ian Foster has been writing reviews of plays, sometimes with a critical element, on his blog Ought to Be Clowns, which has been listed as one of the UK's Top Ten Theatre Blogs by Lastminute.com, Vuelio and Superbreak. He averages more than 350+ shows a year. He says: "Call me a reviewer, a critic or a blogger, and you will apparently put someone or other's nose out of joint! So take it or leave it, essentially this is my theatrical diary, recording everything I go to see at the theatre in London and beyond, and venturing a little into the worlds of music and film/TV where theatrical connections can be made."