VERNON GOD LITTLE
by DBC Pierre adapted by Tanya Ronder.
Young Vic 66 The Cut SE1 8LZ To 12 March 2011.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat & 23 Feb, 2 March 2.30pm.
Audio-described Saturday 5th March 2:30pm.
Captioned 2 March 7.30pm.
Runs 2hr 45min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7922 2922.
Review: Carole Woddis 12 February.
Spirited production almost as good as new.
You can see why Rufus Norris’s twirling Wurlitzer of a production and adaptation (by Tanya Ronder) of DBC Pierre’s Booker prize-winner Vernon God Little has been asked back for a second ride. It spins you around, throws you up and deposits you safely back in fairyland ending.
That is to say, Pierre’s eponymous young hero, having been hunted high and low, wrongly accused of being an accessory to murder – well massacre actually – found guilty and sent to the electric chair only to receive a last minute reprieve, supplies something for everyone.
Whatever age, you’re likely to get something out of Norris’s exuberant jaunt. That’s because interspersed with a bunch of C&W favourites from the ‘60s and ‘70s – `Galveston, oh Galveston’, `Your Cheating Heart’ and many others – we oldies can happily nostalgise whilst younger members of the audience can identify with the innocent and victimised Vernon. Wiser heads can even meditate on Pierre’s scorching satire on southern Texas life with its low-lifers, conmen, corrupt officials, big Hot Mommas and bitter indictment of capital punishment.
Yes, there’s definitely something for everyone here though my recollection of the original production was of one less inclined to overplay its hand in raucousness, and painfully haunting in its evocation of innocence betrayed.
Cast changes too have not necessarily improved on some of their predecessors – Mark Long as Lally, the TV conman, Mariah Gale as Taylor the sexy honey-trap and Colin Morgan outstanding as the persecuted Vernon.
Joseph Drake, however, making his professional debut, straight out of drama school, is sweetly vulnerable as Vernon whilst betraying a fiendish talent for rap and body swerves. Lily James, too, does a terrific double act as the blonde-wigged Taylor and precocious -“wanna see my south pole?” – teenager, Ella.
The fact that Vernon’s answer to this is finally “Yes” gives ammunition to the idea that Pierre’s subversive tale is also something of a coming of age account.
The main pleasure of this revival however remains Norris and his cast, conveying Pierre’s anarchic outrage with so little – a couple of sofas, supermarket trolleys, some guitars – and with such dexterous gusto.
Jesus: Luke Brady.
Mom: Clare Burt.
Lasalle/Dr Goosens/Pelayo: Daniel Cerqueira.
Lally: Peter De Jersey.
Vernon: Joseph Drake.
Pam: Johnnie Fiori.
Ella/Taylor: Lily James.
Vaine/Leona/Team Leader: Penny Layden.
Sheriff Porkorney: Nathan Osgood.
Abdini: Duncan Wisbey.
Director: Rufus Norris.
Designer: Ian MacNeil.
Lighting: Paule Constable, Jane Dutton.
Sound: Rick Walsh.
Musical Arranger/Musical Director: Phil Bateman.
Choreographer: Lizzi Gee.
Costume: Nicky Gillibrand.
Dialect: Michaela Kennen.
Assistant director: Rikki Henry.
Assistant designer: Jim Gaffney.
Vernon God Little was first produced at the Young Vic on 8 May 2007 as a co-production with Cuba Pictures.
This production opened at the Young Vic Jan 27, 2011.