Last year, Trashed earned rave reviews for David William Bryan at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The play returns this month – this time at the Vault Festival in London – and strong word-of-mouth will see this show being a favourite there too.
Keith Goodman (aka ‘Goody’) has spent more than half his life working as a dustman. From the off, Goody is forthright about his life and his ‘vocation’. One might think cleaning up asbestos for a living is as bad as things get, but there are other things on his mind – namely his marriage.
Goody’s monologue is very much an impassioned affair, remembering in detail how he met his wife Debbie as a youth and the laugh he fell in love with. In contrast, his present, frayed marriage has hit a wall – the lack of communication engendered by a recent family tragedy. The incessant drinking of cans is at first comical, but as the play progresses, we see that underpinning it is a desire to obliterate Goody’s thoughts and numb the pain that he feels.
The play is at times very funny, largely stemming from Goody’s fearless honesty. But as more and more of ‘the facts’ come to the fore, the play takes a darker turn – unexpected at the time but in hindsight, inevitable.
Sascha Moore’s play is replete with memorable moments that later have a greater significance and an emotional pay-off. At a superficial level, the monologue appears to be about a man on the fringes of society who is angry about choices made and the nice things of life that are out of reach. The play, however, is so much more than this, as a friendship with a young boy puts Goody back in touch with his ‘inner child’ and reminds him that he was barely out of adolescence before he became a father.
The ‘masculine’ curse of not being able to express one’s feelings runs like a thread throughout Trashed, and while Goody is able to vent off to the audience, to the people that ‘really matter’ he can’t articulate himsef. The play’s conclusion left a ‘knot in my stomach’, but credit to Moore and Bryan, they don’t play it safe – choosing instead to show the natural consequences of behaviour and miscommunication.
Theatre rarely hits the solar plexus like this.