It’s time to take down the billionaires!
If you’re on the hunt for an hour of mid-week intrigue, emotion, and thought provoking storytelling, look no further than the superb new play, Hooded, written by first year English student Ariel Hebditch.
Hooded tells the story of three university students – Leigh, Robyn, and Sophie – who club together and devise a dastardly plan to kidnap billionaire Brian Henry. Brian is a social media magnate and member of the ‘upper echelons of British society’, representing everything wrong with the elite in this country today. On top of his successful social media company Voyeurme, his constant investing in start-up after start-up has left him stinking rich – £4.4 billion rich, to be exact – and these women have had enough. The play deals with a wide range of themes, from inequality to feminism, workers’ rights to environmentalism, in what can only be described as a vicious attack on capitalism and all that it encompasses.
When I entered the Corpus Playroom, I was immediately struck by the riotous music of teen rebellion. The set is sparse yet striking: whitewashed walls and a plain single bed tucked away in the corner. The Almodovar-esque dashes of colour on set – a bright red backpack and pieces of striking modern art – elevate the space from the literal to the ethereal, suggesting not all is as it seems.
As the play opened, the music quietened and the audience was greeted with the most striking of images: a handcuffed man lying face-down on the floor, with two young women standing over him. Perhaps the most powerful image of the play, this scene was beautifully lit with an eerie blue light as the very deliberate silence swallowed the stage, and the whole audience with it as well.
Set over the course of an afternoon in a single hotel room, the show was the perfect fit for the Corpus Playroom and its small, intimate stage. The action unfolded right before the audience’s eyes in real time, as we learnt, explored, and uncovered mysteries alongside the three protagonists.
While at times the play was slightly dialogue-heavy and the pacing a little slow ― due only to first night nerves ― the acting really stood out, with emotionally charged performances from both Fuschia Webb – as the aggressive and hot-headed Leigh – and Lizzie Banner, who gave a moving interpretation of a woman whose mother had suffered at the hands of this billionaire’s greed.
Kitty Liu treated her character’s trauma with sensitivity, and gently addressed the issues of sexism and discrimination in the workplace with grace and ease. Praise must also be handed to Macsen Llewelyn and his fantastic portrayal of the slimy and uncaring billionaire Brian Henry, as I have never seen someone act so convincingly while simultaneously being pushed around on a wheeled office chair.
The play’s shock twist and cliff-hanger ending will certainly leave you pondering and asking questions of yourself, wondering if we, the individuals are really to blame, or if it is indeed the fault of the 2000 or so billionaires who control 3.5% of the entire world’s wealth. While full of ideas and questions, this play ultimately leaves it to the audience to figure out the answers.
Hooded is running at Corpus Playroom at 7PM from Tuesday 10th until Saturday 14th May. Tickets can be purchased from the ADC website here.
Feature Image Credits: Michael Kabasele