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  • Henry Longstaff

Little Scratch - New Diorama Theatre

Festering trauma is vocalised through the subconscious everyday

The cast of Little Scratch stand in neutral clothing, speaking into microphones
Photography: Ellie Kurttz


Miriam Battye’s award-winning adaption of Rebecca Watson’s profound novel has found a second home at the New Diorama Theatre. The visceral, swirling production is richer and more effective with stronger sound design elevating it to new heights. The narrative, a harsh and humorous expression of a woman’s inner thoughts as she goes about her Friday, is inventive and oh so relatable, but as the carnivorous, internal wounds left behind by rape grow, the fear of never feeling normal again swells - a hidden crusade that too many have to endure, articulated impeccably.

Performed by a row of four stationary performers at microphones, Little Scratch is anything but static. The words cascade up and down the line, overlapping and colliding with one another, sometimes in unison, sometimes in conflict, in a near perfect rendition of the inner monologues we all experience during the waking hours of the day. The disjointed and intrusive thoughts heard out loud are easily recognisable and therefore acutely funny at times, such as spotting a dog on your morning commute, but equally familiar when the voices in your head undermine your confidence, tempting you to believe something that is not true.

Eleanor Henderson, Rebekah Murrell, Eve Ponsonby and Ragevan Vasan expertly form the voices of the protagonist, but also use live foley to further enhance the production. Brushing teeth, scratching skin and slurping tea are all realised in accompaniment of Melanie Wilson’s spectacular score. Wilson has created a sound design that creeps under your skin. Soundscapes churn to capture the emotions of the piece, crafting dissonance as soon as the character begins to feel uncomfortable or fearful. Sounds of the everyday fill the space too, phones, buses, and hums of the air-conditioning to name but a few. The design is a 360-degree, audible masterpiece in itself, and almost makes me wish the piece was performed in complete darkness to heighten it further.

With a plain backdrop, neutral clothing and simple lighting design of overhead lamps that leave the actors’ eyes in shadow, Little Scratch is able to let the words and language soar. The raw and fearless script extracts the pure power of Watson’s novel and transforms it into a unique theatrical experience. It dares to demonstrate the lingering effects of trauma, of rape, in a way that is relatable and accessible, forcing you to consider your own inner voice and how much control we have over it. This is a must-see production overflowing with stunning creative choices - see it if you can.

Running until 13 May - Tickets

Photography - Ellie Kurttz

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