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Mercury Fur review at Old Red Lion London

Following close on the heels of the Southwark Playhouse premiere of Philip Ridley’s new play Shivered and an acclaimed production of The Pitchfork Disney at the Arcola comes a magnificently intense revival of this disturbing, jet-black fable, originally staged in 2005.

In a ruined, near-future London, two brothers, Elliot and Darren, are preparing a burnt-out flat for a ‘party’. In order to survive in this brutal, blasted world, they have teamed up with the more ruthless Spinx, a man willing to pander to the appalling impulses of their paying ‘party guest’. Darren, the more child-like of the brothers, has also formed a connection with the good-natured Naz – a damp-eyed scrap of thing in torn jeans.

Ridley’s play, though incredibly harrowing and often jarringly nasty, is not without its moments of tenderness and redemption. In a crumbling society where everyone is in some way broken, where memory and even language have been eroded, where there is little sense of history and the future is uncertain, the potential for love – and even for hope – remains.

Ned Bennett’s production makes excellent use of the hothouse environment of this compact performance space and though it doesn’t stint on gore, it’s far from sensationalist. Its grip may lessen a little in its messier, more cluttered, second half but it remains taut and potent. The performances are also superb – Ciaran Owens and Frank Keogh have a convincing, mutually protective rapport as the two brothers and Olly Alexander is astonishingly good as the puppyish Naz.

Production Information

Old Red Lion, London, March 27-April 14

Author
Philip Ridley
Director
Ned Bennett
Producer
Greenhouse Theatre Company
Cast includes
Olly Alexander, Ciaran Owens, Frank Keogh, Ben Dilloway, Katie Scarfe, Henry Lewis, James Fynan
Running time
2hrs 30mins

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