by Paddy Campbell.
Live Theatre Broad Chare Quayside NE1 3DQ To 5 October 2013.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm Mat Thu, Sat 2pm.
Runs 2hr 35min One interval.
TICKETS: 0191 232 1232.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 29 September.
Laughter and hope amid disturbed and turbulent lives.
In the Wet House, a hostel for alcoholics, Paddy Campbell’s social derelicts are supervised by people with their own imperfections and disappointments.
Mike’s dependable in controlling others’ outbursts, but his own temper’s testy. Chris Connel employs his skill at dangerous edge characters, ferocity flashing behind humour, Mike’s discontent with his life transmitting as sarcasm. In contrast, Jackie Lye’s Helen is slipping into acceptance of a single, incomplete, life as middle-age engulfs her.
Sex between them, repeatedly referred to, finally interrupts as gropus interruptus bordering violence. It’s one of the times this disturbs Mike’s laid-back attitude about a job he describes as an opportunity to be paid for sitting around drinking and playing cards.
So he sticks it, unlike young Andy, fresh from failing an Art History course and, in Riley Jones’ edge-of-nerves performance, fearful of Mike’s outbursts and the residents’ violent moments.
Given a room-key, paying rent in a parody of hotel life, the West House is its residents’ only option beside a choice of gutter, shop-doorway or prison. There’s pregnant Kerry, before and after her child’s taken from her. Bruised and scarred, physically and emotionally, her fury at what her life’s become is increased when Helen’s sympathy isn’t followed-through. The destructive rage is no less terrifying for its origin in a life where low self-expectation buttresses her against fear of failure.
Eva Quinn never exploits Kerry for theatrical effect. Nor does Dave Nellist with Spencer, predator on the weak and victim of the strong, beaten and bullied into silent suffering. Joe Caffrey’s Dinger, inarticulate and stinking, seems the comic relief, till in a scene worthy of Maxim Gorki’s Lower Depths he soothes Kerry to sleep.
The sight of her lying calmly in bed could make a fine close, but is followed by Dinger’s own step to recovery, in an excitement mixing the effects of drink and hope making contact with his child.
Placed in Live’s 40th season between the reflective Tyne and Lee Hall’s modern classic Cooking with Elvis, Campbell’s play shows Artistic Director Max Roberts still seeking-out work reflecting the city and its region for a new generation.
Spencer: David Nellist.
Mike: Chris Connel.
Kerry: Eva Quinn.
Andy: Riley Jones.
Dinger: Joe Caffrey.
Helen: Jackie Lye.
Director: Max Roberts.
Designer: Gary Mccann.
Fight director: Renny Krupinski.