Rare Philip King play tries to turn a farcical situation into a serious drama – and it doesn’t quite work.
A playwright wants to write a play about patricide, but with an actual criminal onstage instead of an actor. Initial research leads him to a young man called Martin Santos, serving consecutive life sentences in Belmarsh for killing his father.
As the audience enters, Greg Hicks sits at a pub table on an otherwise bare stage. It’s impossible not to watch him until the house lights dim, and this opening sets the tone for the two and a half hours to come.
Shirley’s script, with its echoes of Hamlet, Othello and The Spanish Tragedy, is less philosophical and more action. Whilst this makes it easy to follow and immediately engaging, the characters are more generally more limited in their scope for interpretation.
Ex-IRA member Quinn Carney and his family have gathered to bring in the harvest. The celebration stretches back centuries and brings the extended family together, so Quinn’s house is crowded. Along with his wife Mary and their 7 children, his brother Seamus’ wife Caitlin and her son Oisin have lived with them for the past 10 years since Seamus disappeared.
After 20 years running the Rosemary Branch, Cecilia Darker and Cleo Sylvestre moved on to pastures new in June this year. Unattended Items, a company with a focus on interactive theatre and design-led work, took over and have been busy programming work that has similar practices to their own.
New captive drama is well-written in a symbolic vein that helps to humanise the story behind the headlines.
A cultural relic of its time, the bible is hardly pro-women. Lucy McCormick, here incarnated as one of those vapid pop stars who evangelically (and often inappropriately) rallies for the cause they’re currently backing, wants to turn the spotlight on the new testament’s women.