Review of ‘Starting Out’

We love to know what’s going on in and around Birmingham. If you’ve seen something amazing, please share your review with us! Here’s one from our friend Jaden Larker, who reviewed Women & Theatre’s production of ‘Starting Out’.

When I attended the REP for this performance, I had no idea what to expect, other than the information that had been provided on the website. Yet what I got somehow still managed to exceed my expectations. The set was wonderfully minimal, drawing the entire focus on the monologues (and occasional duologues) we were presented with. Real stories about real people, about situations that millions of women and men find themselves when they are heading out into the big bad world for the first time, leaving the warm comfort of adolescence behind.

Without giving away too many juicy details, we are invited into the lives of five young women, all on a similar path, experiencing very different journeys. Portrayed by five talented young women who make you laugh, smile and sympathise with their plights. Even as a man I was able to see parts of myself in a few of the characters, which I’m sure is a testament to the research done in writing these five stand-alone monologues. All of which began to intertwine as the show went on, occasionally crossing over into one another and lacing it into one solid piece.

Despite the overall minimalism of the production, the costume and occasional prop were used very effectively, the wardrobe perfectly captured the stories and essences of the characters, helping to bring them to life so you would forget you were watching a play, and felt more like you were having a one on one conversation with the character on stage. They make you empathise with the situations, regardless of whether you have experienced anything similar or not, and embody issues such as anxiety, depression, conformity; as well as touching upon characteristics such as resilience and perseverance.

Towards the end of the play, it begins to deconstruct the state modern society, and in particular the employment sectors and raises the issues that are causing current and future generations difficulty and often times suffering. This is done through an interesting metaphor and told in fairy tale format, which is a very apart juxtaposition from the gritty realism of the rest of the play, despite the actual context of what is portrayed. Providing a sense of relief after the emotional rollercoaster that came before it.

Overall I feel that ‘Starting Out’ is a wonderful insight into the lives of everyday people, both young and old, struggling to make in a world that looks nothing like it used to, and the issues that either aren’t being addressed, or have yet to be solved. The way it deals with occasionally dark and troubling issues, manages to make you smile, laugh, and ends on a high, which after everything that comes before it, is something the entire audience, as well as the characters, deserve!

Jaden Larker
Spoken Word Artist
Trainee Teacher in Computer Science

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