Sugar by Open Clasp Theatre Co – review

Most of what you need to know about Sugar by Open Clasp Theatre Co is set out on the postcard above. They were given out at the premiere screening, at Live Theatre, last Thursday. Fittingly, two days before International Women’s Day – a day that isn’t so much about celebrating women, but fighting for women’s rights.

In fact, the above underpins all of Open Clasp’s work. Work that isn’t about getting bums on seats and sensationalising women’s plights. Work that is made to engage audiences, and to initiate change for girls and women. Work that lets you see the world through someone else’s eyes – hits you in your gut and your heart.

Sugar is a devised piece of theatre, made to be screened. A film. A stark 80 minutes of four women’s stories – women who could be any woman you pass on the street or see on the bus… or don’t see at all. This devised piece of theatre, written by Open Clasp’s Artistic Director Catrina McHugh MBE, was made with women in homeless shelters, in prisons, and on probation – to give them a voice. The stark set matched the tone and mood. The lighting, camera angles and sound playing their part too.

Three things affected me the most.

1. The women’s faces – unlike a staged play everyone in the audience could see the actors’ faces up close. The anguish. The defiance. The despair.

2. Their stories – of being stuck in relentless cycles of abuse and trauma. Relentless.

3. The little girls at the end – dancing in and out of the stark grey pillars. Not a care in the world. Not knowing what might be in store for them.

Laura Lindow’s direction kept everything taut. With moments allowing it all to breathe. Not once did I look at my watch.

Annie’s & Julie’s tales were told as monologues. Tracy’s began as one too, and then Rita joined her. All four played by four amazing women actors. With such close camera angles there was no where to hide… the piece needed such an amazing cast.

Four women who have been let down by their families, by society, by us.

Sugar is a state of the nation piece of theatre. And the nation’s not in a good state.

I turned the postcard over when the lights came up. And read…

Sugar is about a future for those young girls… It’s about every Annie, Julie, Tracy and Rita out there. It’s about breaking the cycle.

Sugar goes on tour from June.

So far dates have been set for two screenings, at ARC Stockton – June 17th & 18th. Pay What You Decide.

More dates around the country will be announced soon.

Screenings can be shown at conferences too and for training, just as Key Change and Rattle Snake by Open Clasp have been.

For more information visit

Creative Team and Cast

Writer: Catrina McHugh MBE

Director: Laura Lindow

Cast: Taja Luegaezor Christian, Paislie Reid, Zoe Lambert, Christina Berriman Dawson

Camera Direction & Editing: Katja Roberts for Meerkat Films

Set & Costume Design: Verity Quinn

Lighting Design: Ali Hunter

Sound Design: Roma Yagnik

Photo Credit: Topher McGrillis

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