Paines Plough, London, United Kingdom, 2006
Author: Mark Ravenhill
Directed by Lucy Morrison
about the production
Mark Ravenhill belongs to the most famous contemporary British dramatists. Thanks to his play from 1997 called Shopping and Fucking, he became one of the brands of the so-called cool, or rather, in-yer-face drama. His play Product from 2005 was staged by young British director Lucy Morrison in the Paines Plough Theatre which specializes in presenting contemporary drama and it is well-known not only in Great Britain but also throughout Europe. The production, premiered at the last year’s Edinburgh International Festival, deals with the theme of terrorism. It is done so in the Ravenhill´s cynical and ironical way, which reminds us once more of what the western civilization produces around us as well as in ourselves.
The production is even more interesting because of the fact that Mark Ravenhill himself plays in it. He plays screenwriter James who is offering the script of his newest film to young starlet Amy. Product is a monodrama; there is an actress on the stage together with Mark, but her role is without text. She is real and at the same time, unreal, like all the Hollywood heroes.
Product is some kind of metatext about media fiction. Ravenhill plays with the way by which the media rouse emotions in people – as he says: “The effect of today’s news always oscillates between real feelings and the Hollywood style emotions.” In Ravenhill´s play, terrorist actions, which are almost an every-day part of the news, become the material for creation a rather banal love story.
Screenwriter James, more and more zealous in plotting the story, changes the script right on the spot. The script is full of the clichés of a Hollywood film – the excitements of a thriller and emotions of a love story. He also plays with the language of slogans of the advertisement world, which lure us into the world of illusion of an ideal happy life. To paraphrase Ravenhill´s words, the script, the object of Product, may as well be the script of a Hollywood film or computer game where Lara Croft and Bridged Jones fight in the name of jihad.
Product is a highly current play, not only because of its theme but also because of the way the theme is dramatized. It reflects the desire for the story by which we try to fill some empty gap in the chaos of our era. It relativizes our ability of emotional perceiving – media news about cruelties in the world leaves us indifferent, but any Hollywood B-movie can move us to tears. We live in virtual reality, in the era of a complete loss of orientation and values.
Ravenhill´s humour is sharp: the text flows in fast speed, the way of Ravenhill´s playing and interpreting the story drags us into the story of the future film. Ravenhill´s humour is witty and “typically English”: there is a deep and cruel designation of the contrarieties of our era hidden under it. On the surface Ravenhill speaks of the private, in order to uncover what is determined in it by the western society and vice versa. Product relativizes the effect of the dominant liberal economy and Christian Eurocentrism. Here, everything and everybody is a product, terrorists as well as their victims.
directed by Lucy Morrison
written and performed by: Mark Ravenhill
lighting and sound designer: Mat Ort
voice: Siobhan Stamp
Lucy Morrison is currently Head of New Writing for Clean Break a theatre, education and new writing company. The company commissions professional playwrights to research and write a play that reflects the experiences of women, whose lives have been affected by the criminal justice system. The resulting play is produced and toured nationally and to prisons. Previously, Lucy Morrison was Literary Manager of Paines Plough for four years. During her time with the company worked with writers including Sarah Kane, Abi Morgan, Gary Owen, Philip Ridley and Enda Walsh. She has presented several incredibly successful Wild Lunch seasons and directed numerous play readings. Most recently for Paines Plough she developed Dennis Kelly's play After The End and ran Future Perfect funded by Channel Four and Film Four, a programme for talented young writers. She was dramaturg for Frantic Assemby’s Peepshow in 2002.
Script of the production: SK
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