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Cuddles

Rendah Heywood and Carla Langley in Cuddles at the Ovalhouse. Photo: Alex Beckett

Thirteen year old Eve is not allowed outside. She’s lived her whole life in one room, her safe zone. She’s had to, because Eve is a monster, a vampire – she has a hunger which needs to be contained.

Joseph Wilde’s first full-length play, returning to Ovalhouse as part of a UK tour, is a fairy tale with teeth. Eve’s only point of contact with the world beyond her room is her older sister, Tabby, off whom she feeds. It’s an unnerving set-up and Wilde handles it well, playing with horror tropes – there are shades of Ginger Snaps and Carrie as well as disturbing nods to real-life abuse cases – while also saying something about the ways in which love can get twisted and the damage people can do to one another. The chains and locks, the piss-bucket and the daily feedings, have become normal to these two. Eve is simultaneously a Cinderella figure and Anne Rice’s child-vampire with none of the social graces, casually humping a table leg as the sisters play Monopoly.

Rebecca Atkinson-Lord’s production is not short on nastiness but it knows when to pull back. Rendah Heywood and Carla Langley revel in their roles, the former worldly and hard-edged, the latter unnervingly child-like and feral, her bare legs streaked with filth.

Grimly engaging as it is, the piece over-explains itself in places and there’s a seam of broad, hard humour running through it which undermines the play’s considerable capacity to be both troubling and tender.

Verdict
Grim, unsettling fairy tale steeped in horror tropes

Production Information

Venue
Ovalhouse
City
London
Starts
May 6, 2015
Ends
May 16, 2015. Touring to May 26, 2015
Press night
May 6
Authors
Joseph Wilde
Director
Rebecca Atkinson-Lord
Set
James Turner
Lighting
Pablo Baz
Sound
Edward Lewis
Technical
Greg Mickelborough (production manager), Philippine Velge (assistant director)
Stage manager
Beatrice Galloway
Cast includes
Carla Langley, Rendah Heywood
Producer
Arch 468/Ovalhouse
Running time
80mins