All In A Row @ Southwark Playhouse*

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Tickets and more information: https://southwarkplayhouse.co.uk/show/all-in-a-row/
Booking until: 9th March 2019
Production Photos by: Nick Rutter
Run time: 90 mins

All In A Row follows Martin and Tamora the night before they send their 11 year old son Laurence, who has severe autism and is a mute because of it, to a private care home and school so he is looked after better. Despite the piece being marketed as a play about Laurence, I found that the play is mostly about the parents and the breakdown of their marriage.

All in a Row. Hugh Purves (Laurence) & Charlie Brooks (Tamora). Credit - Nick Rutter

You may have heard about this play due to the controversy surrounding the character of Laurence because he is being portrayed by a puppet. Despite the writer and the AD of the Southwark Playhouse trying to justify this decision, I really couldn’t see past it. I can’t quite comprehend why this decision was made. It’s utterly objectifying and portrays a negative light on people with this level of severe disability. It says to them and to neurotypical people like myself that they are not human. And I don’t believe that this is what the writer was intending on at all, but I feel like more consideration should have been taken. Given that the main focus in the show is around the parents, they could have either cast an actor or not had the puppet at all and have the character off stage.

All in a Row. Simon Lipkin (Martin), Hugh Purves (Laurence) & Charlie Brooks (Tamora). Credit - Nick Rutter

I feel like the production could be summed up as a “missed opportunity”. With fantastic performances from Charlie Brooks & Simon Lipkin as Tamora and Martin, this really could have been a brilliant production if the focus was shifted elsewhere. The script is well written but even so, it goes off on weird, bizarre tangents at some points in the play. For example, Laurence’s carer Gary decides to randomly mention that he has a theory that people with autism are like “animals reincarnated into humans” and likens Laurence to an aggressive puppy. This perpetuates the “non human” light this play, whether accidentally or not, shines in this play and what for it? In a poor attempt of banter?

All in a Row. Charlie Brooks (Tamora), Michael Fox (Gary), Hugh Purves (Laurence) & Simon Lipkin (Martin). Credit - Nick Rutter

What I would say is if you want to, go see it and judge it for yourself. Enter at your own risk, but the performances are worth investing the 90 minutes.

For more information on Autism please visit https://www.autism.org.uk/about/what-is/asd.aspx

To support work on what it’s like to have autism by people with autism please visit https://unbound.com/books/stim/

Until next time,

941FE797-4AA9-4DD2-B942-69FB058B830B

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