Reviewer: Deborah Klayman
The Public Reviews Rating:
Apparently based on verbatim accounts and performed by a young cast, Iron Assumptions seeks to debunk some of the myths surrounding ex-offenders and routes into prison. Posing the question “Can a convicted criminal ever be the victim”, Z Theatre Company’s well meaning production then looks at the back stories of a variety of people recently released and attending a parole meeting.
With the meeting’s facilitator nowhere to be seen the parolees begin discussing the reasons for their respective incarcerations. From a posh woman who was caught with someone else’s coke to a girl raised by the care system there are no real surprises and a lot of trite platitudes. Understanding the reasons behind people breaking the law is a commendable goal, and the myriad mistakes that lead each to this point certainly worth looking at, but in this instance is too clumsily addressed to challenge anyone’s perceptions. The cast approach their characters with varying levels of ability, with few managing to evince true emotion or interact convincingly with each other. The direction is dull and repetitive, with each actor taking centre stage in a spotlight to give their reaction to arrest in entirely the same manner and with little variation in tone.
In terms of questioning the criminal justice system Iron Assumptions achieves little. The fact is that a great many offenders are also victims, but simply asking that question without further scrutiny makes it impotent. Several attempts are made to raise issues such as victims being criminalised, substance abuse causing crime and the legalities of protecting your own home from burglers, but the writing is just not strong enough to develop the ideas the production seems aimed at addressing.