“Who protects those that protect us?” Victim welcomes us to take a step inside the female prison walls and the minds of officer Tracey and inmate Siobhan.  Engaging, provocative and insightful, this follow-up from Bruised Sky to 2016’s Villain considers the struggles between guards and inmates, whilst also throwing in multiculturalism, welfare cuts and the whole contemporary context and setting. Brutal, topical and darkly funny, this one woman show is a thought-provoking and believable piece of drama.

Written by Martin Murphy and performed by Lead Pencil’s Louise Bereford, Victim is a wonderful play which investigates the goings on inside a women’s prison and uncovers that, while it is the judicial system that controls who goes in, it is the inmates that control what comes in. This hour long show explores the relationship between officers and inmates, providing a detailed character development into both Siobhan and Tracey.

A play recently published by Bloomsbury Metheun Drama, the dialogue just works and keeps the sadly small crowd in The Attic in the Pleasance Courtyard enthralled, holding their attention for that full hour. The narrative also works, switching from Siobhan to Tracey and back again, all aided by a change in accent, from Dublin to London, and a harsh lighting change from red to blue, from one side of the law to the other, aptly. This powerful performance was well-rehearsed and mindful of the issues and characters created, and suggests thorough research from both Beresford and Murphy.

This gritty, insightful story from Bruised Sky Productions has several layers. There’s the cuts (the whole explanation about the 5 mobile phone policy hinted at a lack of resources), misogyny (we consider the new arrival, who had her child torn out of her), and contemporary feminist questions (Tracey worries about her place in the world, not married, not a mother). The set is all black with nothing but a black chair, and this is ideal as is does not distract you from the well-developed characters, the seedy, conniving Siobhan and the polarised, frustrated Tracey. A stripped down set with polar opposite characters and well-scripted dialogue, this is a play not worth missing during the Fringe.

Worth going?

Victim runs until 28th August 2017 at the Pleasance Courtyard (The Attic), 14:00.