Review: How to Start a Riot, theSpace at Surgeons Hall (Venue 53)

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When there have been so many attempts to establish the cause of the London riots by interviewing a small selection of individuals who took part in them, it’s refreshing to find a play that looks at the wider picture – and does so with such imagination and theatricality.

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Like a young Brian Cox of psychology, Michael Woodman gives fascinating insights into the way crowds behave, explores riots through history and breaks down what happened in August 2011, while playing catchy little numbers on the keyboard. He is joined by Callum Elliot-Archer and Joe Sellman-Leava who, aided by papier-mâché heads, form a chorus of characters.

Lighting plays a strong part in a piece where all opinions are picked apart equally, whether it’s those blaming the rioters as “mindless thugs” or an unequal society. A song embellishing a speech by David Cameron is a brilliantly funny piece of satire.

While the conclusion comes close to pinpointing why the riots happened, it feels like a more thorough analysis is still needed – one that, with a bit of development, this piece could achieve.

Until 25 August. Today 7:05pm.