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Review: Trigger Warning

Review: Trigger Warning

Review: Trigger Warning cover photo on Stagedoor
Eurotrash’s 'Trigger Warning' at Camden People’s Theatre is the headline show in a canny little festival called Handle with Care exploring attitudes to offence, safe spaces, identity politics and self-care.

Upcoming shows include I, Incel which ponders what happens when one person’s safe space on the internet is a threat to others, while Mighty asks whether heightism needs to be taken more seriously. Yes No Black White offers a Rorschach test for your personal offence-taking mechanism.

Trigger Warning walks the tight-rope between the serious and the comic, anxiety and laughter, pitfalls and pratfalls operating as a clown show performed by two air stewards delivering the safety demonstration for a play called Hope. Hope is going to be a 12 hour epic performed in six acts about a young girl’s refugee journey in a world where Jacob Rees-Mogg is Prime Minister and the Houses of Parliament are sinking into the Thames. But don’t worry, Trigger Warning lasts a bare 60 minutes.

Photos by Harry Elletson.

There is a brilliant—or some might say interminable—five-minute section in which the cast—Kath Duggan and Daniel Hay-Gordon—eyeball us while we are invited to read the imaginary 110 page synopsis for a play that never really happens on stage but which is, of course, taking place all around us in a world where war and climate emergency mean more and more people are on the move seeking safe haven.

Co-Created by Natasha Nixon and Marcelo Dos Santos, and devised with the cast, Trigger Warning sits in a tradition of imaginary performance that includes Andy Field and Nima Dehghani’s Above: a Festival of Imaginary Events for Rooftops in Tehran and London, and the Bon Jovi musical, We’ve Got Each Other. It constantly points to theatre’s aspirations and its failings and the gap between the theatre and the real world. We talk of theatre as a place to talk things through, show what cannot be endured in real life, a place of catharsis. But can it ever bring about real change? Isn’t there a lack of urgency about what theatre tackles a bit like the safety demonstration on a plane that is already falling?

It is ambitious work, but one that doesn’t quite negotiate a shift in tone between the first part which neatly plays on content warnings, giving notice of “full frontal nudity, shaved and unshaved”, “rape, mutilation and dinner parties in the Cotswolds,” to something more serious and scary and significant .

It is better at sending up the conventions of theatre which it does with deadpan aplomb than it is at actually interrogating whether sensitivities to offence are a luxury in a world where migrants like Hope die every day.

Lily Arnold’s design ensures we enter the safe space of the theatre through one door, and leave it through another. The words HOPE are picked out in lights over a tinsel curtain. But behind the door is something truly frightening. It is roaring, and as we step from the dark of the theatre into the light it cannot be ignored.

Trigger Warning runs at Camden People's Theatre until Sat 9 Nov.

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Written by

Lyn Gardner

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