Gutted review at Theatre Royal Stratford East London
Told with shocking clarity but a keen sense of compassion, one of the remarkable things about this new drama is its eloqence.
Set on the council estates of south east London, Gutted tells the story of the Prospect family, four boys who dominate the landscape of Bermondsey with a mixture of petty crime and antisocial behaviour.
Their youth behind them, they are soon facing trouble in the adult world. The youngest, John, has already done time while the eldest, Matthew is just coming out of rehab with a thirst for the truth, which exposes a chain of abuse throughout the family and beyond into the community.
Rikki Beadle-Blair’s script leaps off the page in a flurry of profanity and south London ‘Blackney’ but the rhythm of the text and the naturalism of its delivery is little short of poetry. Beadle-Blair directs with extreme assurance and an exemplary cast ensures that this play, arguably the best in the author’s canon, will stay in common memory for a long time.
There are powerhouse performances throughout, particularly from the Prospect boys themselves, James Farrar as Matthew and Gavin McCluskey as John, Frankie Fitzgerald as Mark and Jamie Nichols as Luke. Ashley Campbell is utterly superb as Moses and a revelation as pre-op transsexual Frankie. As their mother Bridie Prospect, Beadle-Blair has created a character that should resonate throughout theatre history – an everyman of sorts, reminiscent of Mother Courage and brought to excruciating life in a bravura performance by Louise Jameson.
Played out on a set made entirely of mirrors allowing no place to hide, Gutted pulls no punches but thanks to careful crafting you leave the theatre with a sense of optimism and hope in your heart.
Theatre Royal Stratford East, London, May 2-25
- Rikki Beadle-Blair
- Theatre Royal Stratford East
- Louise Jameson, James Farrar, Frankie Fitzgerald, Gavin McCluskey, Jamie Nichols, Ashley Campbell, Jennifer Daley, Sasha Frost, Dominique Moore
- Running time
- 2hrs 30mins