A VERY VERY VERY DARK MATTER
by Martin McDonagh.
The Bridge Theatre, 3 Potters Field Park, London SE1 2SG to 6 January 2019/
Mon-Sat 7.45pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm.
Runs 90 mins No interval
TICKETS: 0333 320 0052.
Review: William Russell 25 October.
Far from wonderful Copenhagen
Danny Kaye must be gyrating in his tomb, and as for Hans Christian Anderson and Charles Dickens they could well be rising from the dead to pursue Martin McDonagh to the ends of the earth. This intermittently funny foul mouthed play – the number of four letter words even for McDonagh are remarkable – suggests that a talentless, racist and not very intelligent Andersen kept a one legged Congolese pygmy woman in a cupboard in his attic and she wrote all his stories. Nor is Andersen alone. He goes to visit Charles Dickens who gets tired of this garrulous guest and eventually discloses that he too had a Congolese pygmy but his one is dead an all he has is the skeleton.
There are some funny lines, Jim Broadbent as Andersen ambles benignly throughout the evening, Johnetta Eula Mae Ackles making her professional debut is very good indeed as the slave in the box who does all the work, and Phil Daniels and Elizabeth Berrington are fine as Dickens and his long suffering wife. But what it is all about is anybody’s guess and Mr Broadbent gives no indication he knows either.
The Congo was viciously exploited by King Leopold of the Belgians, racial prejudice was rife and Africans were callously exploited and exhibited as freaks of nature. But while all this is set out in the programme just how what is happening on stage is relevant to those crimes against humanity is hard to comprehend.
Anyone expecting wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen is going to be in for a very big surprise. Whether they are shocked by the language is another matter as it is pretty much, even if rather more abundant than usual, what one expectsin a McDonagh play. There is indeed something hidden in the Andersen attic screaming to escape – you could say there is something rotten in the state of Denmark.
Narrator: Tom Waits.
Marjorie/Ogechi: Johnetta Eula Mae Ackles.
Hans: Jim Broadbent.
Edvard: Lee Knight.
Barry: Graeme Hawley.
Dirk: Ryan Pope.
Crowd: Jamie McKie, Alice Selwyn, Anthony Taylor.
Ingrid/Kate: Audrey Hayhurst, Amelia Walter, Annabelle Westenholz-Smith.
Press Man: Paul Bradley.
Dickens: Phil Daniels.
Catherine: Elizabeth Berrington.
Walter: Regan Garcia, Leo Hart, Austin Taylor.
Charles Jr: Alistair Benson, Noah Brignall, James Roberts.
Director Matthew Dunster.
Designer: Anna Fleischle.
Music: James Mahoney.
Lighting Designer: Philip Gladwell.
Sound Designer: George Dennis.
Illusions: Chris Fisher.
Video Designer: Finn Ross.
Fight Directors: Rachel Bown Williams& Ruth Cooper-Brown.
Production photography: Manuel Harlan.