The Class Project - The Tobacco Factory

The Class Project - The Tobacco Factory

‘Nothing can come of nothing’ Act I, Scene I, King Lear

We enter The Tobacco Factory - an intimate space with a capacity of no more than 50 people - and a woman on stage comments on my friend’s leopard jacket as we walk in. It’s unusual for the audience to be heckled by the performer, however, the small intimate space allows for this casual atmosphere. This was unusual for me: having not seen a one woman show before, I wasn’t really sure what i was in for.  We are then seated and on stage; we see a black velvet dress hanging with heels placed beside it. There’s a chalkboard on the right of the stage with The Class Project written on it and school style table and chair.

To start we watched writer and performer Rebecca Atkinson-Lord sing a work song - some of the audience even joined in. We then watched her sit down, do her make-up and discuss her family background. As the performance unravels, not only does the casual atmosphere grow more formal, but her appearance too. We are taken through a timeline of politics, pinpointing some Prime Ministers who were in office across the years, and exploring the effects they had on social mobility. Alongside this timeline of politics is a timeline of her life, which keeps the discussion of her class constantly in the background.  

The thought-provoking piece shines a light on the topic of social mobility and class. Not only were we taught lots about what class is and some attitudes towards it, but many questions were raised for the audience to answer themselves. We were able to draw on our own experiences and relate to her. The personal touch added the intimacy, which is an aspect that’s hard to achieve in other shows. Even when it came to the predictable ‘getting undressed to show vulnerability’ part, it was done incredibly well.

The conclusion highlighted two sides of a similar story. On one hand, people have their roots and origins, and this information can be shared just by the sound of an accent. On the other hand, there are connotations which come with that, and perhaps it’d be easier to fit in to some places if you adopt a more well spoken tone. Nonetheless, whatever accent you have, Atkinson-Lord demonstrated that you shall not be silenced because of it.


Four stars

Zoe Loughton