by Philip Ridley.

Arcola Theatre (Studio 1) 24 Ashwin Street E8 3DL To 11`7 March 2012.
Mon–Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm.
Runs 1hr 40min No interval.

TICKETS: 020 7503 1646.
Review: William Russell 30 January.

Entertaining sound and fury signifying not much.
Beautifully acted, skilfully directed at this Preview, this is one of those plays which adds up to enthralling theatre, but really is a load of chatter about nothing in particular, vaguely in the Pinter mould – except that Pinter usually has something to say, whereas Ridley seems to be indulging in words for their own sake.

Staged 20 years ago at the Bush, this revival, well directed by Edward Dick, has fine performances by the cast of four who deliver the long speeches Ridley has landed them with in fine style. It is one of those menace plays in which exactly what the menace is remains obscure.

Brother and sister, who may be twins, are recluses living in a sordid locked room littered with chocolate wrapping paper. They seldom go out and fantasise that they are living in a post-nuclear world in the sole surviving house in their town, although quite where the chocolate comes from is anybody’s guess.

Something nasty happened to their parents once upon a time – naturally we never learn what it was – and the pair engage in the usual verbal power struggles in this kind of play, ending with Presley (Chris New) sedating his sister Haley (Mariah Gale); a normal occurrence it seems.

A car stops in the street outside. Enter Cosmo Disney (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett), a dynamic, black-leather coated figure with the gift of the gab, who engages in more verbal confrontations with Presley, who may or may not be gay, but is definitely bonkers, in which the balance of power again shifts repeatedly.

Enter the driver of Cosmo’s car, which appears to have stalled outside, Pitchfork Cavalier (Steve Guadino) and more menace ensues – a child-killer called Pitchfork Disney features in Presley’s fantasy world. Is Cosmo dangerous? Is Pitchfork the real danger? Or is it Presley? The speeches are terrific to listen to, but it all adds up to one more trot round terribly familiar territory, and, once the actors are done, it vanishes in a puff of smoke.

Presley Stray: Chris New.
Haley Stray: Mariah Gale.
Cosmo Disney: Nathan Stewart-Jarrett.
Pitchfork Cavalier: Steve Guadino.

Director: Edward Dick.
Designer/Costume: Bob Bailey.
Lighting: Malcolm Rippeth.
Sound/Composer: Richard Hammarton.

2012-01-31 13:39:01

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