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> > > Review: Fight Face by Tin Bath Theatre Company

17 September 2009

By Jo Verrent

man and woman gesture violently at each other by Jon Pratty/dao

Sophie Woolley and Nick Khan in action in Fight Face. Photo dao/Jon Pratty

Image: by Jon Pratty/dao

We didn’t get to see the whole of Fight Face but boy did we get a sense of what we’d be in for if we did. Fight Face is written and performed by Sophie Woolley, joined by performer Nick Khan.

It’s fast, physical and frenetic – and much of the power in the piece is held within the words, which Woolley wields with a savage humour sharp enough to hurt (particular favourite at the moment being the Polish couples exchange: ‘Stop calling me a stupid woman’. ‘Stop being a stupid woman’.)

Now usually, a fast-paced and wordy show would leave me cold – I wear a hearing aid and tend to miss words if I can’t see the lip pattern clearly. But that’s not a problem here.

Sophie is also hearing impaired and Tin Bath Company have a commitment to captioning every performance. But this isn’t captioning in the ‘small box of blank orange text’ format you may be used to. This is using captioning as an art for the benefit of all.

There are words, yes, with fonts to match the characters, and images and animation and more, and more, and more (and of course if the actors miss a line, it means we all know about it though – quite intense pressure to be pitch perfect then).

The usual rules apply – it’s not just great for deaf people, in such a speedy show as this, everyone benefitted from the captioning – in both an access and an aesthetic sense.

I’ve seen a few of Sophie’s shows before and her ability for creating and performing such deeply flawed yet intensely believable characters always astounds me.

She is well matched in this piece by Nick Khan, who’s kebab-shop worker Jenghiz really moved me with his shy and quiet demeanor – until he got hold of the gun, that is.

You can’t even try to describe the plot of any of Sophie’s work in around 300 words (think Albert Square on acid) – the twists and turns are enough to make your headache. The stories may be extreme but the emotions are raw and real, and instantly recognizable.

So we didn’t see the whole show due to the time available within the Decibel schedule – but I saw enough to make me want to get online now and book a ticket for when its anywhere within 150 miles of me.

I need to know how the fire at the kebab shop started, if Tabbitha ever got a shag and if that bloody baby ever stopped crying…

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