"Shameful Issues Enjoy Needful Publicity"
by Arthur Duncan for remotegoat on 28/02/17

This drama triumphs on the tension between fragile innocence and worldly experience. Under Laws of the jungle; prowling dogs will eat stray kittens.

‘Worthy Causes’ may be dismissed as boring but Gerald Clarke’s latest play, injected with committed performances from Jasmine Atkins-Smart and Jared Morgan, is fired-up with the passion of outrage. In one of the wealthiest states on earth, the United Kingdom has in recent decades seen an unacceptable rise in homelessness.

Causes of this shameful situation are many and complicated, … especially among the increasing numbers of adolescents who run away from home. Families under many social pressures, often grounded in poverty, descend into emotional breakdown, giving rise to intolerable aggression or abuses between family members who ought to be loving and caring for each other.

Leaving what should be a homely haven of security, to embrace hardships and life-threatening risks on the streets, is clearly not sensible but misery can distort one’s thinking, especially in one too young to assess alternative options. Escape is an instinctive recourse ….

So that’s how teenaged Patricia fetches up on a city pavement, alongside down & out, Dan; but they might as easily be ‘on the street where you live.’

Pulling no punches, Gerald Clarke’s play references many horrors likely to destroy the runaway’s future prospects; or destroy her future entirely. For an old hand, like Dan, born into abject deprivation, the tricks and skills needed for survival are almost second-nature,‘though that doesn’t make the dangers any less real.

Jared Morgan is an immensely watchable actor, with a voice that penetrates the ears, giving words greater vitality and meaning, than merely read from the page. The exchanges between him and Jasmine Atkins-Smart are fiercely realistic. Dan is vehement, striving to impress upon Pat’s convincingly portrayed, vulnerable femininity, the horrors she faces. Pat is insecure and distrusting, her terror entirely believable and later, given further impetus when a huge brute of a man intrudes.

Jet Clarke, making his acting debut, is Voce; a thug, a hustler, a pimp always seeking fresh female flesh with whom to sate lustful desire and thereafter, extort a despicable livelihood. (NB: The character is at odds with this gentle man.)

An off-stage event between Dan and Voce, occurs while Pat is fitfully sleeping. She wakes and perceives what seems is betrayal by honest old Dan, in fact, her guardian angel. Judgement is thrown into chaos and another bout of screaming and pleading dissolves into the heart-stopping inevitability that renders the play profoundly disturbing and as valid a piece of theatre, as any seen Upstairs at the Alma Tavern, this millennium.

Enlightening for theatregoers without experience of such deprivation but relevant ro all who have compassion for people in such dire circumstances, ‘On The Street Where You Live’ is an important contribution to the efforts being made by many organisations, to relieve suffering and improve support for those trapped by homelessness into a terrifying existence.

A list of organisations involved is printed on the back of the programme, if patrons wish to know more of these issues raised in the play. Homelessness is a shameful cause, worthy of everyone's attention.

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