THE BAD SEED
by Maxwell Anderson
The Brockley Jack Studio Theatre, 410 Brockley Road, London SE4 2DH to 1 April 2017.
Tues – Sat 7.45pm.
Runs 2hr 15 mins. One interval.
TICKETS: 0333 666 3366.
Review: William Russell 18 March.
Lethal child’s play
A play can have its shelf life, especially this sort of thriller which is not a who done it but what do about it? Maxwell Anderson’s play was a Broadway and West End hit when it was staged in 1954 and the 1956 film version, which differed in some respects, received several Oscar nominations. The pedigree is impressive but times have changed.
It is about a homicidal child who kills to get what she wants, in this case the school penmanship medal won by a hated little boy. Slowly her mother comes to realise what happened and that there have been similar happenings before. Rebecca Rayne as Rhoda, while made of sugar and spice and all things nice, is really a little too old to be an eight year old, Christine, the fraught mother is nicely done by Beth Eyre, as she starts to wonder whether it is her genes, the bad seed of the title, that are the reason.
The hole in the plot is why, when the little boy died on a school seaside trip after being pushed of a jetty and suffering unexplained injuries in the presence of Rhoda, who had been told not to go there, there no official inquiry, no police involvement. To add to the brew there is an irritating landlady obsessed with the girl, a deranged handyman, an effective turn by Brian Merry, who spots a fellow psycho and duly comes to a horrible end, and a final curtain revelation one can spot coming a mile off.
The chance to see The Bad Seed is welcome, and mechanically the play still works, holding attention until the inevitable shock horror ending. but what was new in 1954 is old hat today. That children can kill is no longer unthinkable nor is the possibility that the tendency is in the genes.
Rhoda Penmarck: Rebecca Rayne.
Kenneth Penmark: Andrew Futaishi.
Christine Penmark: Beth Eyre.
Monica Breedlove: Jessica Hawksley.
Emory Wages: Daniel Osgerby.
Leroy: Brian Merry.
Miss Fern: Jessica Gilhooley.
Reginald Tasker: Aneirin George.
Mrs Daigle: Lucinda French.
Mr Daigle: David Gurney.
Richard Bravo: Stephen Good.
Director: John Fricker.
Designer: Mary Sankey.
Lighting Design: William Ingham.
Sound Design/Composer: Philip Matejtschuk.