New play 14% is currently running for a limited time at Contact Theatre Manchester, created by the theatre’s very own Keisha Thompson. The play follows British footballer Nadia (Lauren Fitzpatrick) and her unnamed, unborn baby, and with meticulous attention to detail, this thought-provoking production challenges us to reflect on what it means to feel British.
Set against the frenzy of the Lionesses’ success, this multi-sensory play invites you on a journey inside the confines of a post-match train carriage – lean in close and eavesdrop on the clashing voices and beliefs of other passengers. Prepare for a layered audio-visual experience where internal and external pressures rise.
In a surprising turn of events, audiences are split in half and invited to weigh in on what they think about identity, Britishness and thoughts around ethnicity. All set to a backdrop of a women’s football match, one half of the audience first experiences the sounds, thoughts and beliefs of several groups of train passengers, raising questions around ethnicity, belonging, homophobia and misogyny.
This portion of the production can feel uncomfortable at times, but this encourages us to face questions and behaviours that we are inherently uncomfortable with, bringing up conversations that are undisputedly important. The layout of Contact Theatre lends itself to this immersive way of experiencing theatre that is so rare, but should be taken on in order to move the artform forward.
As for the other half of the production, Lauren Fitzpatrick puts on an incredible one-woman performance, presenting the mixed thoughts and feelings of a pregnant professional footballer, trying to come to terms with the results of a genealogy test that tells Nadia exactly what proportion of ethnicities she is made of – part of which being 14% British.
Incredible choreography and immense stage presence come together to end the play on a particularly somber note, leaving the entire experience lingering on your mind long after the final bow.
14% is a claustrophobic snapshot of the common and clashing identities that define and confine us, and is a genuinely necessary piece of art that everyone should take part in – all aboard!
14% will run at Contact Theatre in Manchester until this Saturday 28 October – find tickets here.
Contact Theatre is located at The University of Manchester, Oxford Rd, Manchester M15 6JA.