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  • Xi Ye

Review - Scratches

Arcola Theatre

Playing until 11th November 2023




Review {AD - PR Invite}

Self-harm is private, sad, and stigmatised. Aoife Kennan talks through her personal experience in Scratches, introducing humour and self-reflection as she tells her stories. This production is not here to make you feel sad, it is there to make you listen, think, and appreciate the small things in the process.


Like many others, Aoife tried to hide her wounds and felt she wasn’t listened to by doctors, friends and even her parents when she confessed her problems. Self-harm is generally not talked about and hidden away under pieces of clothing, until you have so much blood oozing through and you need a mop to clean it all up. Basing it all on her personal experience, Aoife intricately weaves in the funny side to all of the things that happened to her. There is no doubt that the starting place and even the process she had to go through were difficult, but that didn’t’ stop her from looking at them and portraying these in a different light. In fact, not talking about it or underplaying it would only intensify the problem, which is precisely what happened when Aoife’s parents failed to properly acknowledge the magnitude the issue.


Before the show starts, Aoife warms up on the side of the stage, then runs in to greet the audience, setting an energetic and upbeat tone. Though Scratches appears to be a one woman show in the first few minutes, Aoife is quickly joined by Zak Ghazi-Torbati, who takes on the roles of various characters in Aoife’s life events, but none more important than Aoife’s best friend, who looked out for her in her moments of need. The interactions between Aoife and Zak form some of the highlights. The two performers are funny in their own ways. Aoife being the neurotic individual and the focal point of the show, while Zak does a fantastic job as the calm, sometimes detached and ultra-sarcastic friend. The chemistry between the two is electrifying, constantly pulling and pushing each other to drive the narrative forward.


The show uses simple, but highly effective narrative and lighting cues to switch between narration and a retelling of a post event. Aoife quite literally shouts “an event!” before the light switches and we go into the telling of it. In a production where we are constantly thrown between the present and the past, this prompt is actually very helpful in priming the audience and to take them with you on a journey.


It is very easy to provide generic words of comfort, or downplay the magnitude of another’s feelings. Through Aoife Kennan’s lens, she communicates how real these episodes of self-harm are and how important it is to talk about it, show it and not shy away from it.


Creatives

Writer: Aoife Kennan

Director: Gabriella Bird

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