Meek opens with a bleak stage, a cross hanging ominously from one of the walls of the grey stage. Penelope Skinner’s haunting vision of a state controlling its members, particularly the female, through religion, threats and oppression is a stark reminder of the regimes in our world today that do operate in a similar way and a warning to the many previously democratic countries that are sliding to the right again.
With a cast of three talented women at its helm, the play began tense continuing to build until its climatic and fraught ending. The intricate relationships between the three women were delicate and complicated, changing direction several times throughout the performance. Shvorne Marks as Irene, who refused to have her spirit broken, was incredible to watch. Her conviction and emotion were heartbreaking as was her belief and hope for a better life. Marks’ performance carried the play and Amanda Wright as the lawyer and Scarlette Brookes, Irene’s friend Anna, were crucial in helping to create this world where Irene was being persecuted for a song deemed rebellious. Wright had a powerful presence as Irene’s advocate pushing her to embrace her newfound political power and stand proud for those who supported her. Brookes’ more insidious character of Anna showed the effects of cowering in the face of rebellion could have and showed how often it could be fellow minorities who encourage people to remain in their box. In this case, she suggests Irene should give in to the authorities and accept her punishment as they know best and it’ll be better in the long run.
Meek is an extremely powerful piece that may be overlooked during the festival due to its slightly more sombre artwork and subdued feel. However, what it lacks in noise it makes up in content and Hodge’s direction makes sure to bring Skinner’s script to life in a way that we can see the relevance to today’s society. A gem at the Traverse this Fringe, Meek’s tale is anything but meek and should be heard and heeded.