Dante's Inferno At The Rag Factory Is Raw And Physical

By Silvia Baretta Last edited 40 months ago
Dante's Inferno At The Rag Factory Is Raw And Physical ★★★☆☆ 3

Back ground 1

Londonist Rating: ★★★☆☆

We feel a bit like Dante stepping through the gates of hell when we enter the Rag Factory, located in one of Brick Lane side streets. After a few steps in the dark, we get into the performing space: an old and bare warehouse. Seating is old chairs, set up close to where the actors are warming up — jumping, lunging in close one to each other and screaming — it looks like capoeira. It all feels a bit weird and a little uncomfortable.

Suddenly, the play starts: it tells the story of Dante, a western society man who lives oppressed by 'the system'. He has a wife he doesn't love anymore, a job he doesn't like and a friend he can't stand. His monotonous routine goes on, day by day, until he attacks a homeless woman on the street. He's sent to jail, where he experiences hell and eventually enlightenment.

The acting is very physical and quite raw — the cast moves around the space continuously, jumping about and making extreme movements between one scene and another, giving the production a restless feel. The rhythm of the narration produces tension in the audience, and there's a lot of screaming during the acting. There's no stage, no costumes, no set dressing: the skill of the actors at creating different scenarios without these props is excellent.

Director Rocky Rodriguez Jr's re-interpretation of Dante's Inferno is sound, but the script gets preachy and the message — live for the moment — is simplistic.

This emotionally-challenging piece of theatre will suit those who want to see raw performance and eschew the glitz of the West End, although we felt it's a little overpriced. The production is going ahead in tribute to actor Kan Bonfils who passed away during rehearsals last week.

Dante's Inferno is on at The Rag Factory, 16-18 Heneage Street, E1 5LJ until 1 February 2015. Tickets are £12/£10, you can purchase them online in advance. Londonist saw this show with a complimentary press ticket.

Last Updated 16 January 2015


How can it be overpriced - it's £10 - £12! Clearly they need to pay the actors, director, production staff and venue, even if it is a 'non-set' set. Sorry, but that's a ridiculous thing to say (and insulting to all involved), especially for a London show and when giving it a three star review.


I think there was a lot of talent there... in the performances, and the energy. Oh the energy! So much energy. But let down by what felt like a preachy, almost teenage script. Heavy handed to say the least. The narrative seemed to think if you work in an office, you're worthless. Quit your job and live happily ever after.

But totally agree with Janet - you're saying £10 - 12 is overpriced? Man. Taking away promotional costs, cuts for booking fees etc. there's the venue, organisers, the director, five people putting their all into exhausting performances, live music, singing... and think of all the training before hand and practice to get them there. And you're quibbling over £12? What else are you going to do with your evening? Watch Eastenders? Go out and dine and spend that on a couple of street food burritos?

I think while it wasn't completely my thing, I would rather performers try something different and I would not begrudge them a single penny.


P.S. on a lighter note, Ryan Prescott was amazingly hot! That body... just inches away... worth the visit alone.