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Words: Elodie Marriott

On a smoky stage filled with cardboard boxes on metal shelves, Woodhill is a performance dedicated to expressing the tragic consequences of corruption within the prison system. Focusing on male inmates in Milton Keynes, Matt Woodhead succeeds in writing and directing a deeply political and affecting show, which leaves a question ringing in the audience’s head: ‘Why did no one do anything?’

Woodhill personalises systemic problems, battling the obliteration of people’s identities in prisons, where they are cruelly reduced to a number. It is urgent and poignant. The writing captures the emotional journey of the bereaved who have lost a son, a brother, inside institutions that are supposed to protect them. It is truly haunting and won’t easily be forgotten.

The audio narrating the instances of injustice coupled with the jerky choreography is viciously emotive, and effectively conveys the pain experienced by families of the incarcerated. With magnificent control of the body, the cast expertly express grief and distress, producing a tense atmosphere that lasts the entire show.

At the end, the actors return on-stage, smiling for the first time and breaking the melancholic spell which holds the audience. But we are quickly reminded that while what we saw was a performance, everything that was said was true.


Summerhall, Main Hall
8-13, 15-20, 22-27 Aug


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