"We have done it for so long. It is who we are. It has to happen"
A play about FGM - female genital mutilation - could never be easy to watch, it should never be easy to watch. But the genius of Charlene James' Cuttin' It - initially written for radio and now expanded with direction from Gbolahan Obisesan - is that it makes it essential to watch, theatrical but still truthful, fierce and yet fearless, if you're more shell-shocked at the end of a play this year, I'd be surprised.
Told in the form of overlapping monologues from fifteen-year-old Somali-born teenagers Muna and Iqra, Cuttin' It tells of two very different young women. Muna has been in the UK since she was three, Iqra arrived as a refugee when she was ten and though they now attend the same school, there's worlds between them. But they have something in common, FGM, and in the space of just over an hour, we see just how much.
It's such a delicate and emotive subject (seriously, it's been a while since I've seen an audience so collectively pole-axed at the end) that I don't think I can really do the play much more justice than to say that you absolutely must go and see it. Tsion Habte and Adelayo Adedayo give two extraordinary performances (and a debut one from Habte too, just stunning) that explore and expose the cultural baggage of the practice without demonising the religious side. Book now.
Running time: 70 minutes (without interval)
Booking until 11th June, then touring to Birmingham Rep, Royal Court, Sheffield Theatres, and The Yard