Hole in the Heart
Theatro Technis, 26 Crowndale Road, London NW1 1TT
Tickets £8. Box Office 020 7387 6617 Until 1 February
The social services – what a bunch of bastards. And, indeed, if they truly did act in the way portrayed in this new play written and directed by George Eugeniou, they would merit such an unforgiving and damning epithet, writes Graham Hopkins. In the play, social workers are inflexible, culturally insensitive, intolerant and uncaring (it’s just a job to them, you see). In a world of the “Child Protection Act”, one social worker dances and whoops with delight as a catalogue of minor parenting misdemeanours is read out in court as reason enough to remove a child from her loving but misunderstood parent. Indeed, depriving parents of their children is a task that the evil social services relish as if on a bonus for every kid taken into care. Here, social workers (of all people) ridicule the notion of “cultural difference”, the Greek Cypriot family’s defence of their behaviour: “We’re not shouting, we’re emotional people; we’re not like the English – we come from a hot country.” And yet the premise of the play is promising: three generations of a family who “lose their children to the social services” are dealt with in the style of an Ancient Greek tragedy. It is an episodic tale of untrammelled misery, mental breakdown and early death. The Greek Chorus provides poetic respite from the shouting and violence: a domestic dust-up, for example, is compellingly realistic. The two female leads certainly earn their corn, particularly Karine Bedrossian in her first professional role. But the moments of dramatic power are short-circuited by the relentless and unmitigated negativity towards social services. By not exploring the dramatically fertile and complex tension between state and parenting more lucidly, we’re simply left with an enormous, gaping hole in the script.