Rattle Snake - York Theatre Royal

Rattle Snake artwork 2 (1).jpg

A sharp, moving and unflinching new play based on the real life stories of women who have faced and survived coercive control in domestic abuse, Rattle Snake is an epic tale and an exciting new co-production between Open Clasp and Live Theatre in association with York Theatre Royal. It tours to York Theatre Royal Studio between 17 and 21 October.

The follow-up to the critically-acclaimed Key Change, recipient of the prestigious Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award and a New York Times Critics’ Pick, Rattle Snake is written by Catrina McHugh and directed by Charlotte Bennett, associate director at Soho Theatre.

Coinciding with the change in UK law in 2015 making coercive control in relationships a crime, Rattle Snake was originally commissioned by Durham University and Durham Constabulary, funded by Durham PCC and is used in the training of frontline police officers.

PC Tony Miley was one of 398 officers at Durham Constabulary who took part in the training with Open Clasp. He said, “This was, by a country mile, the most engaging, impactful and thought provoking training session I have had in my fourteen year career in the police. Very emotive topic and excellently portrayed by the two tremendously talented actors - it blew my socks off!”

Durham Police, Crime & Victims’ Commissioner Ron Hogg said: “This play provided an innovative approach to training here in Durham. It provided front-line officers with a unique opportunity to learn through theatre, so that they would further understand coercive control in domestic abuse, and the day-to-day incidents which victims suffer through this appalling crime.”

As with Key Change which was created with women serving at HMP Low Newton in County Durham, Rattle Snake was inspired by the women who put their trust in Open Clasp to tell their stories.

Writer and Artistic Director Catrina McHugh explains, “I’m at once delighted that Rattle Snake will reach a wider audience, feel the potential for change in the air and at the same time my heart aches with rage as the reality for so many women. Imagine a life where you live with your doors and windows locked, one where you can’t breathe the air of a free person, constantly looking over your shoulder, wondering if this day is the last for you and your children…This is the reality of coercive control in domestic abuse.

“During the training officers sat in bulletproof vests daring us to make an impact and we did, now we take it to a national audience. It was a total honour to collaborate with the women who inspired the story. I believe that Rattle Snake is important theatre, it takes your breath away and will change lives.”

Christina Berriman-Dawson (Suzy) was one of the cast of four in Key Change, and has also worked with Director Charlotte Bennett at Forward Theatre. Eilidh Talman (Jen) was one of the original cast members in the police training sessions.

Director Charlotte Bennett said, “I’m thrilled to be returning to work with Open Clasp again. Their commitment to representing marginalised women's voices makes them one of the most important theatre companies making work in the UK today and I feel honored to be directing this new show which brings a voice to survivors of coercive control.”

Listings information

An Open Clasp and Live Theatre co-production in association with York Theatre Royal
Rattle Snake
York Theatre Royal Studio, 17-21 Oct
Evenings 7.45pm. Matinee Sat 21 Oct 2pm
Relaxed performance Thu 19 Oct, 7.45pm
Recommended age: 13+
Tickets £14, concessions available
Box office 01904 623568 / yorktheatreroyal.co.uk