Tuesday, 12 June 2012

MEAT at Theatre 503

On Sunday I saw MEAT by Jimmy Osborne at Theatre 503 with Tracy Brabin, Graham Turner, Ian Weichardt and Charlotte Whitaker. It's directed by David Aula. Full details about cast and creatives here.

 Theatre 503 is a theatre in London that specialises in new writing.  Jimmy Osborne's play is about a couple who have grown apart. Vincent works in an abbatoir and has long-since buried his revulsion at killing the animals. At home, he's in charge. At work it's as much as he can do to keep up with new productivity measures on the line. Joy feels dowdy and longs to play a more important part in the local community. When a local lad called Rob is killed, their feisty daughter Carla revels in the vigiliante action taken by neighbours against a local suspect, Joy hopes her place on the sandwiches committee means she'll get a chance to walk beside grieving mother Sandra at the funeral, and Vincent remembers his recent confrontation with Rob and his trouble-making mates.

There are excellent performances from all four cast members and an impressive set with a neat theatrical solution to the question of how you depict blood gushing from dead or dying animals live on stage. Jimmy Osborne avoids the awful preaching too often found in contemporary plays about murdered young men. Instead he looks at the changing power balance within the family relationships as more information about the circumstances of the boy's life are revealed. Nobody behaves particularly well in this (except the dead boy's mother). But I understood why the characters behaved as they did, and found their low-key aspirations credible. I liked the humour in Joy's competitive/sorrowful interactions with her bossy, nosy neighbours and I found the interactions between Joy and Vincent moving.

The points about the need to reevaluate memories of someone who has died, and the need to get involved in other people's grief as a way of making sense of our lives, though not new, were tellingly made.

Reviews by Johnny Fox here and Exeunt here.

There is a reponse night where playwrights can write a short piece after watching the play, with a chance to see their piece performed with others at Theatre 503 on 25th June. Details here.