Community and culture correspondent Julie Bird reviews You Stupid Darkness! by Sam Steiner, Southwark Playhouse, SE1
You Stupid Darkness, the first performance of which took place on 7 February 2019 at Theatre Royal Plymouth, transferred to Southwark Playhouse in London in January 2020 and is running until 22 February.
The play focuses on four volunteers who come together once a week at night time. Outside their murky office the world rages with some kind of enduring apocalypse, although precisely what is going on is left to the audience’s imagination with the significant help of lighting and sound effects and towards the end, the flooding of the office.
In essence, this is a play also about negotiating the threat of life as we know it falling apart, and those threads that we find to keep it together amidst the chaos. The office is falling apart, but the volunteers find ways of getting around its limitations so that they can continue their vital work of consoling others in the community. The fearful callers whose inner world is falling apart receive a listening ear and messages of hope from the volunteers who somehow manage to work with their own distress sufficiently to be there for another. The relationships between the volunteers also reflects the stress in their own lives – threatening to disintegrate their connections. Yet, at the end we see how they too are able to recover and join together in their united goal.
This play made us laugh, cry a little and feel genuine emotion over the relationship and dynamics between the workers, and brings to light the day to day relationships, life’s joys, sadness, tasks and emotions we all have to deal with in today’s society, and how we cope.
The Southwark Playhouse (77-85 Newington Causeway, London SE1 6BD) is an intimate, welcoming and informal venue with an inviting bar space.
Times: Monday to Saturday 7.30 p.m. Matinees Tuesday and Saturday 3.00 p.m. Tickets: £22 / £18 concessions.
Bookings: Phone – 020 7407 0234; Online – southwarkplayhouse.co.uk; In Person – Monday to Saturday from midday.