Welcome to 19th Century England.
Belligerent and bleak, the country collides with the city over land ownership. The previous set up of ‘common land’ meant that lots of small holdings were used by the independent poor as a way to make profit and to live off of. This however, was threatened by the introduction of the Enclosure Acts. Under these acts the land is grouped together, enclosed and given to wealthy landowners therefore forcing the poor to either work for these landowners or move into the slums of the city.
Naturally the poor are not too happy about this and so is the basis for D.C.Moores’ ‘Common’.
In theory, the Industrial Revolution and the impact which it had on the lower classes is an interesting motive for a play, however ‘Common’ seems to be layered up with extra unnecessary dichotomies.
For example, into that already complex storyline Moore adds incest, homosexuality, rape, witchcraft, paganism, christianity and mental health. Oh, and if this mix wasn’t enough to get on with, he chooses a writing style to deliver it in which is at best baffling.
There is some good to shine through the dark and dreary backdrop, and that good is Anne-Marie Duff. She alone seems to struggle through the stammer-inducing sentences and deliver her dialogue in a way which seems to pull us back into this confusing world. Often utilising direct audience address, she curses with conviction and struts about the stage oozing confidence and charisma.
It seems to be full to the brim of themes and words, yet somehow lacking in power and meaning.
Common is on at the National Theatre until 5th August and you can book your tickets here.