Theatre Review: The Riots at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre

Compelling and thought-provoking riots play captures the unrest

THE Riots is a melange of first hand perspectives that reels the audience into the harsh realities that culminated in such carnage last August.

Playwright Gillian Slovo uses tweets, social media and interviews as source material for a documentary that brings to life several of the key events, from the Carpet Right fire in Tottenham High Road to the Salford stand-off in Greater Manchester.

In a particularly powerful depiction, a small crowd including members of Mark Duggan’s family gather outside Tottenham Police Station. Officers tell of their fears as the stagnant response from their senior management fuels the crowd’s frustrations.

The cast do really well in bringing home the spirit of despair amongst some in the working class, as well as highlighting the opportunistic looting that rapidly spread across the country.

Politicians such as Diane Abbot and Iain Duncan-Smith comment on events, and a local resident describes the underlying resentment felt by the unemployed youth and compares the MP expenses scandal to the looting, highlighting the disparity in sentencing. It is a brilliantly authentic and thought-provoking study.

* The Riots is at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre, in Town Hall Approach Road, N15, until Saturday January 14.