Review: Taking Liberties, Bread and Roses Theatre

Written and performed by Caroline Gray, Taking Liberties originally began life as a 15-minute performance at an Actor Awareness Scratch night. With the help of playwright Jon Brittain, it’s been developed into a full-length show now playing at Clapham’s Bread and Rose Theatre.

Amy is a young woman going through a rough time. Not what you’d call a people person (“Happy people really p*ss me off!” she admits) the northerner has just been fired from her job at Morrison’s after throwing sausages (Cumberland, if you must know) at a customer and as a result has lost her job seeker’s allowance. Over the next 50 minutes, as Amy takes the audience on a journey through her past and talks about her estrangement from her younger brother Charlie, they soon discover that there’s a lot more to her story than meets the eye.

Produced by Glass Half Full Theatre, Taking Liberties is a hilarious, engaging and realistic play about a young, working class woman who’s been failed by the system. Caroline Gray’s sharp-witted script laden with cracking one-liners combines well with Stephanie Silver’s direction and light and sound (courtesy of Josie Shipp), with an inspired soundtrack featuring the likes of SNAP’s Rhythm is a Dancer and Gala’s Freed From Desire. Gray has created a well-rounded and likeable character in Amy, and puts in a commanding and energetic performance to showcase her many sides. Amy is outspoken, has no filter at times, is a very good liar and loves complaining, but she’s also endearing, has a vulnerable side and a good heart and truly loves her little brother.

With a running time of under an hour, Taking Liberties does pack a lot into a short space of time and if anything could benefit from a slightly longer duration. That being said, it’s a captivating story about how people can easily slip through the net and be let down by the system. Witty, imaginative and heartbreaking, Taking Liberties is a compelling comedy with a big heart and, like any production which champions working class stories, is deserved of a larger audience.

Taking Liberties is playing at the Bread and Roses Theatre until Saturday 1 June.

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Poster design: Michael James Rideout

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