Performing in Edinburgh for two nights only, piece of theatre follows the lives of Seanette and Lynn: two girls in their late teens who have fallen into a vicious circle, committing petty crimes, getting arrested, coming out on parole and repeating the same activities again. Tagged aims to explore some of the girls’ thoughts, what provokes them, and what keeps them from becoming the “upstanding citizens of society” who they speak of with disdain.
Holly Alexandra as Seanette and Katie Hammond as Lynn both put up stellar performances. Combined with some intense and beautiful lighting, the storytelling is truly powerful. I am partial to trance, and the music was right up my street as well. There are some elements of poetry, but – unexpectedly, given the programme listing – it did not define the performance: rather, it complemented the script well. I thought Lynn’s writing of “pomes” and Seanette’s derision at her reading them out was a very clever device, offering some lines to guide the audience’s thinking.
The themes are well-developed and run clearly through – from the lack of support that young people have when they are in a difficult position in life, to the failure of the system to provide guidance instead of judgement. The girls’ outfits and demeanour captured an echelon of society that is judged and shunned, but their struggles are brought out in a powerful way. The challenges that young women face when they are not quite children but not quite grown-up shine through.
Despite focussing on some very serious themes, the humour in John Stuart’s writing is spot on. It is suitably wry, sometimes candid, but mostly quite crass. Seanette comments “If I keep getting’ caught for shopliftin’, I’ll ruin my reputation!” But in Lynn’s case, the humour is more part of her personality, including her “doing a jobbie” in a bag of crisps.
For me, the one little hiccup came in the dance-like scenes – with no dialogue, just music and lights and movement. I felt that the coordination between the pair was slightly lacking, leading to a stilted feel, and it was also difficult to follow the dances’ role in progressing the storytelling. But that’s a minor flaw in a generally compelling and distinctive work.