Review: The Motherf**ker With the Hat, National Theatre
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Review: Hang at the Royal Court Theatre

700x650.fitIt isn't giving anything away to say that Debbie Tucker Green's new play is about capital punishment, the clue is in the title.

With this subject there is much ground that can be explored and covered; Hang is an hour and 10 minutes and therefore focuses on one particular aspect but not on what you would immediately expect.

We know that a crime has been committed but not what that crime is. Instead we hear about the devastating impact it has had on Marianne Jean-Baptiste's character, her husband and two children.

Sat in a nondescript room at prison with two prison employees (Claire Rushbrook and Shane Zaza) she is there to make a decision, the details of which only become clear later in the play.

The decision is wrapped up in bureaucracy, protocol and emotions which prove to be the great irony of the piece. This isn't directly about the morals of capital punishment but more how the punishment can fit the crime. There is no dilemma, as you would expect.  The two prison staff's ineptitude in dealing with the victim is both ridiculous and human and serves to emphasise just how damaged the family is as a result of the crime.

Marianne Jean-Baptiste gives a stunning performance: bitter, hurt and yet contained almost to the end.

Hang has an uncomfortable humour and some gasp inducing moments.  It doesn't go quite where you expect it to and leaves you with a lot of questions. It gets big points for its unexpected turns but while a gripping watch there is just a lingering feeling of whether more major issues have been glossed over.

Hang is on at the Royal Court downstairs until July 18 and has a running time of one hour and 10 minutes without an interval.

RS/BW 6DS

Marianne Jean-Baptiste was in Broadchurch with Olivia Colman who will be seen later this year with Mr W in the film The Lobster. I love that there is a direct connection between Mr W and OC.

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