Labels is exactly what it says on the tin. Identifying how we as humans label each other by race, sexuality, gender and in fact losing a sense of how these judgements have an impact on the world around us; or in most cases the victims of this abuse.
The performance on a whole is light hearted, with elements of comedic value, audience participation and involvement, and in some cases impressions. A nice change to see such an overly discussed and regularly broadcast topic, such as racism, told in a relaxed and honest manner. Educational and insightful opposed to forced and dictated.
As mentioned, a clear moment of interest threaded throughout the piece is the personal aspect of audience engagement from beginning to end. Allowing us as spectators to immerse ourselves in the dialogue happening on stage and in some cases supporting the work from the comfort of our seats. An example of this being the lone actor teaching the audiences front row how to construct paper airplanes from scratch. A detailed and yet pleasurable exercise that leaves the recipients feeling rather pleased with themselves afterwards.
The only real issue created by the piece however is the controversial mention of the refugee crisis. An issue that slightly turns the production from a piece of acting to a news broadcast. Something people are bombarded with daily and having it present in this performance makes it seem a tad out of place from the personal aspects of the actor’s life leading up to it. The crisis should not be dealt with so one sided as there is always a second valid opinion, and makes the piece turn from a subtle creative and yet educational story to somewhat of a political debate. Something the audience and I seem unnerved by as it is being directed to us as a kind of doctrine and not choice.
Overall, Joe Sellman-Leava’s piece has great heart, intention and humour making it relevant and engaging for audiences to immerse themselves in. The company Worklight (formed in 2011) use the text and the Stratford East Theatre Royal space to create something that is simple but effective and does, as they quote, ‘focus on the contemporary social issues’ using personal stories in their unique approach. An entertaining and yet thought provoking night for all! 3/5
Review written by Luke Redhead.
Labels is currently showing at the Stratford East Theatre Royal until Saturday 30th April. For more information on the production, visit here…