A Brief History of Struggle Review

The Place I Call Home Digital Festival – Monday 19th October to Saturday 25th October 

Reviewed By Sally Richmond 


It was extremely thrilling to receive a series of WhatsApp messages every evening for six days; each containing a cryptic and intriguing voice mail – followed by a short and profound film.  Each vignette, spanning from the years 1928 – 2020, brought social and emotional issues to the surface, via the talented cast and crew of the Paines Plough team.  

The fundamental concepts of an individual’s rights, duties and responsibilities in life were all explored through the exchanges and monologues of various ‘everyday’ characters.  All set in parks, sat on benches in England and Germany, these everyday people, facing everyday challenges (brought about by national and international issues) are given a voice and we hear their inner thoughts, dreams, hopes and fears.  

Beautifully crafted by writers Dipo Baruwa-Etti and Calle Fuhr and smartly directed by Charlotte Bennett, Katie Posner and the joint artistic directors of Paines Plough, A Brief History of Struggle was collaborated during the lockdown period and something that is entirely different, intimate and makes you question life has been created.  How have world events shaped so many of our ancestors and our own lives?  This couldn’t be more thought provoking and current now in today’s pandemic; as we are all reflecting, evaluating and simply enduring whatever is thrown at us.  

Acted out by a strong and talented cast: Bella Maclean, Cosima Shaw, Daniel Adeosun, Jan Pohl, Kristin Atherton, Markus Von Lingen, Martyn Hodge, Nenda Neururer, Peter Stark, Phia Saban and Sophie Doyle, with both passion and sensitivity, various themes ranging from unemployment, women’s rights to the fear of terrorism are raised and questioned.   Some of  the situations are dark with shocking revelations and expose fragmented and frail relationships; with frustrations that may potentially lead to breakdowns and highly charged emotions.  

In the final story, we are uplifted and reminded that we all need to ‘find peace, find a place and keep going’.  This couldn’t be more apt for the struggles we all face today in 2020 and that we need to ‘keep moving forward’.  Since receiving my last WhatsApp media clips, I’ve really missed the anticipation of opening the messages and watching what unfolds from it.  All six mini chapters of time made me think and that’s what art does – to quote George Bernard Shaw, ‘without art the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable’.  

Thank you Paines Plough for giving me ‘food for thought’.