top of page

Review | ROBIN/RED/BREAST | Aviva Studios, Factory International | 17/05/2024

A reimagining of an 1970 episode of Play for Today, Robin/Red/Breast is having its world premiere at Aviva Studios, home of Factory International. This modern retelling is boldly brought to the stage by Maxine Peake, Sarah Frankcom, Imogen Knight, Daisy Johnson and Gazelle Twin.

Factory International’s ever adaptable warehouse is arguably one of the most exciting theatrical spaces in the country. For this production it has been presented in the round, at its centre a wooden frame of a house. This allows not only the audience to see all angles but also each other, providing a feeling of discomfort in line with the villagers in the play closing in. These villagers are interestingly played by a majorette brass band, giving an immediate eeriness that felt entirely unsettling. Gazelle Twin’s music worked perfectly in setting the scene in making the audience feel perfectly uncomfortable.

When entering the warehouse audience members were given wireless headphones to wear. Only being required for part of the show, this could have easily been cumbersome in its execution but it worked well. The headphones transported you directly into Normas distressed mind in a way that would be impossible with traditional speakers, masterminded by Pete Malkin.

Any time there is an opportunity to see Maxine Peake on stage, my advice is to always grab a ticket. Peake is as captivating as ever as Norah, a paranoid and newly single woman trying to live a slower pace of life. Her performance is complex, powerful and raw. It is impossible to take your eyes off Peake as she draws you in and holds you there for the entire performance, as we feel her every emotion.

Although there are many interesting and strong elements, Robin/Red/Breast is somewhat let down in its ability to clearly convey the narrative. Unfortunately I was not alone in finding the abstract story telling challenging to follow, affecting my overall enjoyment. Whilst not everything should be spoon-fed and a degree of audience interpretation can be a great thing, in this case the balance wasn’t right. Perhaps this wouldn’t be the case for those more familiar with the source material, but I believe a piece of theatre should be able to stand on its own feet without any prior knowledge.

Robin/Red/Breast plays until Sunday 26 May 2024, see below for booking information.

Note: My ticket was gifted. Irrespective of whether a show is gifted or bought, I always ensure that my reviews are fair and based on my honest opinion alone.


bottom of page