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Mercury Fur

Published Thursday 24 February 2005 at 13:55 by Roger Malone

Visions of urban decay do not come much bleaker than this. Philip Ridley’s ravaged city is a black hole of despair where conscience is eclipsed by the struggle for survival. This vortex of squalid lawlessness consumes the audience as much as it does the characters. We are hijacked by thundering theatre, a black subject shimmering with jagged dialogue.

To approach this world, the audience is ushered in groups by torchlight through a wardrobe into a seedy box room. The door is then opened and we step out into a detritus-scattered acting area with upturned sofas. Abrasive, efficient Elliot (Ben Whishaw) and his loyal but lacking brother Darren (Robert Boulter) are making a derelict apartment inviting enough for a party killing.

Shane Zaza gives an intuitive performance as eager-to-please Naz who befriends the pair at his peril. Harry Kent imbues transvestite Lola with a sensitivity poignantly at odds with the undertaking. The air of menace cranks into overdrive with the arrival of Spinx to supervise the party preparations.

Fraser Ayres gives a chilling performance - oscillating from casual brutality towards his team to chivalrous kindness to his companion, the blind Duchess (Sophie Stanton). Navneet Mohan is the Party Piece, procured and prepared so the Party Guest (Dominic Hall) can fulfil his darkest fantasies. It is this consumer who is the sickest in this mire of damaged souls - for while the others provide to survive, it is his perverted blood-lust that sets this macabre agenda in motion.

Images from Ridley’s unsettling vision lodge uncomfortably and provocatively in the brain far longer than would some diluted alternative. If you crave a theatrical thump in the solar plexus this production hits the spot.

Production information

Drum Theatre, Plymouth, February 10-26

Author:
Philip Ridley
Director:
John Tiffany
Producer:
Drum Theatre Plymouth and Paines Plough
Cast includes:
Ben Whishaw, Fraser Ayres, Harry Kent, Robert Boulter, Shane Zaza, Sophie Stanton, Navneet Mohan, Dominic Hall
Running time:
2hrs 10mins

Production information displayed was believed correct at time of review. Information may change over the run of the show.

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Run sheet

King's Head, Islington London
January 24-February 15
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