GOD DON’T LIVE ON A HOUSING ESTATE
by Dean Stalham.
Hot Tap Theatre 20-32 Goodwood Road SE14 6LG To 31 July 2010.
Runs 1hr 50min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7274 7474.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 15 July.
New theatre space and play might not be best matched, but an enjoyable enough evening.
God don’t live on a council estate and, as Nature abhors a vacuum, Arthur Dolan took God’s place decades ago and rules the world – as he thinks of his manor – since. Enthroned between huge oxygen cylinders, which he uses either to survive or to tool-up (his final appearance shows him diabolic in black, white hair tied back, God-like, independent of the special air), he smiles confidently, rarely deigning to look at son Danny Boy as he kneels like a courtier at Arthur’s feet.
Danny’s back from Spain, unravelling what happened to his wife Caroline. Something very unpleasant, it emerges, and Arthur’s hand’s in that, as in most things around here. Similarly, Daisy Boy wasn’t as protected as he thought, and has the limp to show it.
Dean Stalham follows events back and forward, with a strong sense of dialogue, all the time revealing the gap between the art theft business Danny Boy’s into and Arthur’s tougher villainy and confident control of things.
It seems Theatre sides with Nature when it comes to abhorrence over vacuums and Hot Tap’s just been established in an industrial block to the left of New Cross Gate station Performed as part of Stalham’s Arts Saves Lives programme aimed towards providing a space for the marginalised and disadvantaged, this is an accessible piece of drama that pieces itself satisfyingly into a whole by the end, when Arthur’s revealed in his repugnant ruthlessness.
Brave as the venture is, the space is a difficult one for a conventionally performed production, with rows of unraked audience facing a raised platform that leaves little room for movement, even though Stalham requires only two-character scenes. It’s no doubt this, despite some nifty scene-changing, that contributes to an occasional sense of hesitancy in Pam Brighton’s otherwise efficient production, which contains some equally efficient acting.
No masterpiece maybe, but Stalham’s done a good job with his script, packing elements of character and morality into his unpacking of a story built round an unstable, amoral character. It seems God creates his own morality; at least he does when the local estate becomes his world.
Arthur Dolan: Dudley Sutton.
Danny Boy: Jud Charlton.
Daisy Boy: Derek Horsham.
Caroline: Heather Wilds.
Director: Pam Brighton.
Lighting/Sound: Ryan Harding.
Music: Jonny Neesom.