Part of the RADA Festival, which aims to bring together RADA graduates and theatre-makers to create performances, installations, and a series of discussions, Always Right There is a topical addition to this collection. Written by Natalia Rossetti, the play looks at the way in which women respond to instances of sexual harassment, especially things society has considered not severe enough to report. Although the subject matter is heavy, it is a humorous and enjoyable piece that looks at serious issues in a dignified and thought-provoking way.
Two friends are hanging out at their small flat in London. They discuss online dating, how expensive avocados are, the unattainable perfection of Instagram and beauty standards, with occasional thoughts about suicide and paedophilia. In between these discussions, the action cuts to an intensive spin class full of women, led by an exhaustingly energetic instructor. They each take it in turns to talk about past experiences of sexual harassment, abuse, and inappropriate behaviour. Each one has an uncomfortable story to share, some more than one. They have been tolerating these moments throughout their lives, etching them into memory, but never letting them come to the surface.
The performances from the ensemble are strong, in particular, Lucy Dobson and Hannah Powell stand out as the two flatmates. They perfectly embody the middle-class millennial lifestyle, presenting Rossetti’s witty writing with great comedic timing. Using these bursts of dialogue to break up the monologues delivered by the women in the spin class allows the pace to flow well. Even though the actors only tell short, single anecdotes, they bring to life Rossetti’s vivid language superbly. Christianna Mason’s design is dynamic, and the perfect backdrop to Samara Gannon’s energetic direction.
Most plays that include themes of sexual harassment usually centre around experiences like rape and physical sexual assault. These are obviously horrific things to encounter but are not the only ways women can be a victim of harassment. This is what makes Rossetti’s piece unique, in that the stories and experiences described are things that all women identify with in some way. Always Right There is a powerful piece that adds to this discussion, especially in the wake of the #MeToo movement. The play is moving, at times upsetting, but also funny and completely relatable – you get the sense while you’re watching it that there is a shared feeling in the room of everyone knowing exactly how each character sitting on those exercise bikes feels.
Always Right There is at GBS Theatre until 7th July.