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Floorboards review at Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle – ‘darkly comic tale of the underdog’s revenge’

Steve Byron in Floorboards Steve Byron in Floorboards

Following a successful run for Bacon Knees and Sausage Fingers (which he co-wrote and co-starred in), Steve Byron returns to Alphabetti Theatre with self-penned show Floorboards.

Byron is excellent as the much put-upon James, who allowed old school friend Nellist (Micky Cochrane) to stay a couple of nights and two years later is struggling to get rid of him. Cochrane’s Nellist is a charismatic waster with a mean streak, all easy-going charm on the surface but underneath it a bully whose comeuppance it’s hard not to applaud.

Malcolm Shields gives a scene-stealing comic turn as Hoggy, Nellist’s partner in an ill-advised scheme that puts them on the radar of local villain Denise (a suitably steely Jacqueline Phillips, playing a character seemingly on loan from a Lynda La Plante novel). While the women have less to do, Cheryl Marie Dixon is sympathetic as Helen, an abused wife with whom Nellist strikes up a romance and becomes the unwitting object of James’ fantasies.

Sharply written and often very funny, the piece is tightly directed by Katy Weir and the production makes good use of Molly Barrett’s compact set, with a pleasingly unsettling and subtly done echo of Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart throughout. Not everything works: the much darker second half chooses comedy over credulity as the bodies start to pile up and the action descends into farce, a running joke about painter Bob Ross turns into heavy-handed symbolism, while a bleak, taut ending is diluted by a piece of whimsy that jars.

Bacon Knees and Sausage Fingers review at Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle-upon-Tyne – ‘bleak but powerful’

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Strong performances and sharp writing in a darkly comic tale of the underdog’s revenge