21 Aug - 11 Sep 2014, Theatre503, Arcola Tent, Gate Theatre
Photos by John Wilson
The Evening Standard
The first play offered by director Alex Crampton, Sleight of Hand from Royal Court Young Writers’ Programme graduate Isley Lynn, is also the most accomplished, craftily insinuating that every member of society, no matter what they do, could potentially have a role to play in stopping the mutilation of vulnerable young women. We hear feisty, interlinking monologues from a teacher, an air hostess, an ice cream van man and a postwoman; they have an uneasy feeling that something isn’t right but will they have the courage to speak up in time? - Fiona Mountford
Sleight of Hand by Isley Lynn darkens subtly, interweaving monologues by chatty but increasingly uneasy Brits ... whose glimpses of an unhappy primary school girl the audience gradually pieces together.
- Kate Bassett
Piercingly eloquent ... A profoundly upsetting evening but one which, as with all good art, gives one at least the consolation of enhanced clarity as it explores this barbarous ritual from various angles ... Let's not mince words: FGM is the attempted lobotomy of the victim's sexual nature – a fact unforgettably brought home here. - Paul Taylor
Little Stitches, however, does not fail to entertain. The opening play features five individuals who each encounter FGM in some distant way through their different lines of work. The characterisations are rich and varied, each complementing the other as they fluently dip in and out of rapid, crisp monologues. The clarity and diversity of speech is a real marvel to behold ... The style of the opening play is reminiscent of Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad and serves to give a comedic undertone that is open and familiar, jarring spectacularly with the presence of FGM. - Alex Finch
The first play, ‘Sleight of Hand’ by Isley Lynn, is the strongest. It presents four characters ... all of whom ignore odd things they’ve noticed about a young girl in their neighbourhood. - Daisy Bowie-Sell
The Arts Desk
The first two plays map out a verbal panorama of a community questioning when to be suspicious and how and when to engage, and both works provide an ever-growing sense of how women anticipate the act of FGM and might then deal with the aftermath. - Naima Khan
Sleight of Hand asks if not knowing or understanding enough is an excuse for turning a blind eye. - Liam Fleming
Isley Lynn manages to achieve a sickening acceleration towards the inevitable in a narrative to which we know the end before the beginning, as the voices of five members of the public who touch the life of an unhappy child are interwoven to expose their well-meaning failure to intervene. Lynn’s SLEIGHT OF HAND is the most accomplished of the plays, but each contributes to giving a necessary voice to victims of a crime that seems to be thriving – in part – on silence. - Sophie Scott
There Ought To Be Clowns
Alex Crampton ingeniously directs a company of five in a way which never preaches yet still asks its questions in a searching enough manner that means one doesn’t get off the hook that easily. Isley Lynn’s opening Sleight of Hand is the most effective of the pieces in that respect, combining five monologues from different members of society on the periphery of FGM, each suspecting that something isn’t quite right but unsure about what if anything they might be able to do. From teachers to ice-cream vendors, a slyly comic tone seduces us in and then leaves us disarmed as the reality of what these women are forced to endure becomes apparent.
Multi-layered, thought-provoking and for the most part elegantly simple, engaging and entertaining: in that sense the production is subtly spectacular. By humanising the story and making it less about “us” and “them”, we obtain a deeper understanding of what drives a practice few can comprehend. - Dena Kirpalani
13 - 14 April 2015, Omnibus Theatre
Photos by Roshanna Rubin Mayhew
An example of the power of theatre and how it can ‘open doors’ for discussions in communities that are very private.
- Verity Healey
Theatre full stop
The jigsaw puzzle-esque manner of the monologues are endearing, but become hard hitting once all of the monologue pieces join together and become more in sync with one another, creating a complete picture of a young girls [sic] harrowing experiences. - Lucy Basaba
A Younger Theatre
It’s a fascinatingly clever piece that demonstrates how invisible FGM can be unless you can see the whole picture. As Stephanie Yamson’s wonderfully likeable postwoman, proud of her ability with sleight of hand, says, it can be “right in front of your eyes, and you still don’t see it”. - Briony Rawle