REVIEW: Broke @ Live Theatre, Newcastle (11.2.2015) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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“Question: Sally is British and broke. If Britain owes over 900 billion in National debt and Sally has been on minimum wage excluding tax for most of her working life with the interest on her debt being equal to her monthly outgoings, then who is more broke; Britain or Sally?”

Broke is an honest representation about the millions of working class people in the UK struggling to get by. Drawn from interviews taken in 2014, Broke was packed full of moments a person who lives in poverty could identify with and for those who haven’t struggled for money in life, it gives you an insight into a whole other world.

Broke followed main character Sally’s life of financial difficulty to the point where she has a Deal or No Deal visit to the bank, will she or won’t she get what she needs to get into financial difficulty. The production highlighted the black hole that is debt, once you’re in it it can seem almost impossible to get out. Get another credit card to pay off a one you have maxed out, get into more debt when you get into the same position again. Poverty is not something that exists in developing countries, it is something that is on our doorsteps every day. 900,000 people needed to access a food bank in 2013/2014 and as highlighted by The Paper Birds it isn’t always the people you would expect to be using them. There is no type of person who needs to use a food bank; it’s not just people without jobs or people receiving benefits. It could be any one of us tomorrow.

The production approached growing up in poverty with a slightly lighter touch: do you remember when you were little and you’d make perfume out of flowers and water then try to sell it on? Or saving up what little pocket money you had so you could buy some chocolate? Not necessarily poverty-stricken, but perhaps as just a part of working class life. Growing up this way teaches “if I want something in life, I have to work for it”; not a bad lesson to learn, but seeing parents struggling to get by is a tough lesson.

Broke struck a chord with me from the off, not because I’ve grown up in poverty but because I’ve never been well off. I grew up around people with really difficult lives and now work with these people. I, like many other people in the North East, am working class and understand just how close any one of us could be to financial difficulty. Whether you are worrying about the fact you might have went over your phone bill, how you will pay off the £27,000 of debt you have accumulated from studying at university, or where your next meal is going to come from, we as a nation have money worries. The gap between the richest in society and the poorest is now massive. It can sometimes be difficult to imagine a life of going to bed cold and hungry, but Broke addresses the issue with sensitivity and honesty.

Broke is coming back to the region on Thursday 12th March at Arts Centre Washington.

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