Chelmsford Theatre Workshop at the Old Court
debbie tucker green [no caps for her] is a Jamaican-British playwright. Her “dirty butterfly” is an exploration of domestic violence, overheard by neighbours.
It's a strong concept, tautly written.
Jacob Burtenshaw, in his directorial début for CTW, assisted by Amanda Craddock, has ditched the South London language patterns of the original, inserted an interval and two silent prologues, adding a good half hour to the running time. He has also given it a realistic set [more suited to Ayckbourn], and reunited the two neighbour witnesses to the abuse in one bedroom.
His three actors – we never see, or hear, the unnamed abuser – give honest, emotional performances. Caroline Wright [Jo, the victim] cowers miserably, and is a strong presence in the second scene, where she drags herself to the café where Amelia [Swapna Uddin] is a cleaner. Amelia has little sympathy for Jo, identifying more than once with her abuser, caring more about the blood on the floor than about the dying girl. At least until they exchange names over the table for two … but it is too late, the play is over. James Howes is Jason, the voyeur whose glass is pressed against the party wall, enjoying his disgust. An almost confessional scene of tenderness closes the first part.
The form is often narrative inner monologue. The style of this production, with its depressive intonation and deliberate pace, made it hard to identify with any of these people – their soliloquies kept firmly to themselves. Much of the impetus and the impact is lost with the idiom.
But, not for the first time, CTW has unearthed an interesting piece of new writing from the fringe, undoubtedly a thought-provoking and uncompromising look at voyeurism, power and guilt.