Theatre Critic and Journalist

Review: Hand-me-Down, Tristan Bates Theatre

Review: Hand-me-Down, Tristan Bates Theatre

Published in Time Out, 20.06.2011

This show, set in a charity shop, is winning and likeable. The one thing it needs to do is throw some stuff out. Kate Craddock’s material is strong. It’s just that, given her meandering structure, it becomes a jumble.

Hand-me-Down has a hint of Jim Cartwright in the way place is portrayed through population. Amidst the bric-à-brac, we encounter genial volunteers and bargain hunters. Among them are a ‘meeja type’ trawling for vintage chic, a child thrilled at spending pocket money and, most poignant of all, an immigrant mother who can’t afford basic clothes for her children.

There’s real moral complexity within: we can’t simply patronise or sympathise. The ‘meeja type’ genuinely cares about the cause, while the penniless mother finally steals a jacket, replacing it with an outgrown baby-suit.

Hand-me-Down uses its little premise to ask big questions. Consumerism, altruism, celebrity and the Big Society all come into focus and Craddock brilliantly suggests an unwillingness to heal a world where global imbalance and exploitation props up our own way of life.

Photograph: Kate Craddock

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