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South West
posted/updated: 25 Sep 2019 -
We Want It All
Devised by the company
society/company: Baked Bean Company, The (directory)
performance date: 23 Sep 2019
venue: The Old Market Theatre, 11A Upper Market Street, Brighton, Hove BN3 1AS
reviewer/s: Chris Abbott (Sardines review)


It is good to see the increasing presence of people with disabilities on stages and in audiences, and this short but provocative and important play was presented as a fringe event during the Labour Party Conference in Brighton. All of the cast were adults with learning disabilities, and they presented aspects of their lives based in the form of dramatised scenes.

One common theme throughout was the effect of austerity and cuts, but also the difficulty of getting people to listen to the voices of those with disabilities. This was portrayed, for example, through a sequence where a social worker turned up late for an appointment and then failed to engage with the client, and using a direct approach to the audience. It was touching throughout to notice the care taken by each of the eight actors to support each other when necessary, and they were all supported by Baked Bean co-founder Jade Hardrade-Grosz who discreetly and sensitively led the performance through signing and cues.

The cast of eight (Sammy Butcher, Mandy Clowsley, Daniel Dhawan, Ramatu Kabara, Wayne McGregor, Jenny Moore, Claire Smith and John Vella) made many important points, including that 4 out of 5 people with learning disabilities were turned away at the last General Election without casting their vote, and that changes such as the move to Universal Credit have greatly reduced support in this sector.

The mission of the Baked Bean Company is to provide outstanding services for people with learning disabilities. They aim to provide projects and groups based around theatre, drama and the arts to promote social inclusion, build confidence and gain new skills, helping them to integrate into society. This was certainly an aim well met by this challenging, important and thought-provoking dramatic presentation.

We Want It All was presented with the help of members and supporters of Wimbledon Labour Party, and the performance was followed by a discussion during which priority was given to people with learning disabilities in the audience, several of whom came with prepared statements that they gave from the stage. We can only hope that some policy makers, at least, were listening.









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