Phil Nichol clearly enjoys playing it sort-of straight. He can be very good at it, too. It is why he set up the Comedians Theatre Company to begin with, but this faintly slapdash production does him few favours.
Nichol plays Angel, a young man with a thick Catalonian accent, who dreams of being a hero. As is frequently the case with Dave Florez’s plays, Angel in the Abattoir goes to some pretty murky places. Angel falls in love with Lorna, who has been subject to abuse since she was a young girl. She is volatile and damaged and you get a sense that she doesn’t really want to be saved – that their story won’t end well.
But while it is delivered with typical Nichol energy and intensity, it is all over the place as a piece of performance. It feels like Nichol only very loosely sticks to the script, something enhanced by the repetitive nature of his delivery. From the short burst of zany, frenzied audience interaction he opens with, it feels like he is showboating, airing his Spanish and Scottish accents – when he remembers to – rather than committing to the character. There is little dramatic texture to the production, it shambles and rambles, and the moments in it which are clearly intended to shock just feel awkward and forced.