MEAT To 30 June.


by Jimmy Osborne.

Theatre 503 above The Latchmere Pub 503 Battersea Park Road SW11 3BW To 30 June 2012.
Tue-Sat 7.45pm Sun 5pm.
Runs 1hr 40min No interval.

TICKETS: 020 7978 7040.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 10 June.

Skilful elements in play for today.
This is a meaty play. For Vincent is a slaughterman, who has been deskilled and pressurised as abattoir work has been fragmented and the production line speeded-up to pursue ever-higher output.

The pressure shows back home. His wife suffers from his pent-up frustration. And Vincent’s no domestic democrat; he keeps the credit card, making her ask for any new clothes. Rebellion comes when she hears Vincent’s reaction to a local youth’s death and senses a new bargaining-point.

He is furious at the way any dead young person is talked of as a near-saint, inconvenient aspects of character dressed-up in euphemisms. Vincent won’t be sucked into the sentimentality of the area’s communal grief, while his confrontations with the dead Bob, in a series of visceral flashbacks, show two angers colliding, the young man’s slower than the slaughterer who finds an outlet for his fury over his dead-end life in a dying town.

People take revenge on the young man thought to have killed Bob. And everyone else has a good word for the dead lad, Vincent’s daughter included. Joy, his ironically named wife, and daughter Carla attend the funeral. Which brings out the best and weakest aspects of David Aula’s staging.

Placing the women around the stage, talking to imaginary people, is awkward. But as a serving-hatch becomes a space for Ian Weichardt’s head and shoulders to stand as if pictured at Bob’s funeral, his features change from angelic to meanly menacing with the flick of several facial muscles and a hoodie, as Bob or others talk about him.

Weichardt moves swiftly between abusive threat and challenging moves to cries about peer pressure and the pain he feels under Vincent’s foot. And – again in an inspiration of writer or director – the actor turns up as Bob’s bereaved mother, speaking with dignified calm and gratitude as she offers a bunch of flowers to the neighbours she thinks have been sympathetic.

But the play has only two tones, particularly one of anger. This limits the other actors in range of expression and the overall sense of dramatic progress through the individually sharp-etched scenes.

Joy: Tracy Brabin.
Vincent: Graham Turner.
Bob/Sandra: Ian Weichardt.
Cara: Charlotte Whitaker.

Director: David Aula.
Designer: James Cotterill.
Lighting: Elliot Griggs.
Sound: Edward Lewis.
Fight director: Alison de Burgh.
Assistant director: Niall Wilson.

2012-06-17 18:23:18

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