Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

I licked a Slag’s deodorant

RWCMD , Venue 13 : RWCMD , August-17-04
This tastefully entitled offering deals with Jim Cartwright’s customary bleak territory, though, as an early comedy, it hasn’t the ferocity of better known pieces such as Road. Loneliness, abandonment, theft, pimps, drugs, violence, dirt: in this play all the materials of misery lead to an oddly satisfying happy ending - of a kind. There are no names, just ‘Man’ and ‘Slag:’ a loser and an addict respectively. As this anonymity suggests, it’s a cartoon world, for you couldn’t possibly laugh if you felt their pain. It’s also in some way about the practicalities of survival. These characters accept what is happening to them and get on with it and part of the play’s pleasure and the actors’ skill is that they draw you into doing the same.

The writing is splendid. In an elegy for an inmate found dead and covered in dust in his lodging house, the man explains that ‘I liked him because he was sadder than me’ and describes the dead man as ‘looking like diarrhoea – all brown.’ When the Man turns up in her room again, despite being fleeced twice, the vulnerable Slag is delighted: ‘he’s come back, he must be a friend!’

Guto Humphrieys’s set conjures a sleazy rented room, with a battered put-up bed, a naked light bulb and a wardrobe pasted with giant tabloid horror stories. The befuddled Man, introduced with a hang-dog expression and his trousers round his ankles, is played by a lanky deadpan Craig Gazey, so ground down he seems hardly able to unfold himself into an upright position, getting furtive pleasure from licking stolen deodorant. It’s a beguiling performance. Gazey plays with the audience his eyes flick shyly into the auditorium as he watches a strip show, pocketing a shabby white bra and sneaking licks on the deodorant. The play starts off with what seems to be a monologue of his sad and lonely life but it’s interrupted by Ffion Williams’s twitchy, strapping Slag. The cartoon quality is highlighted by as she drags his passive body around the stage – a kind of off-kilter wonderwoman with a worm. A lot of the comedy lies in this physical mismatch.

Lovely moments: opening the wardrobe to reveal a smashed mirror glittering in the coloured lights of two rotating disco balls; an allusion to American Beauty as red rose petals rain down onto the Man when the Slag wants to go to his place. He ends up living under her bed amongst the balls of fluff, used condoms and the snowflakes of Uncle Crack, their relationship not based on sex but something gentler: ‘She pokes me and I sing to her.’

Very enjoyable – got four stars on edfringe.com.

Directed by Christian Shaw

Reviewed by: Jeni Williams

back to the list of reviews

This review has been read 7992 times

 

Privacy Policy | Contact Us | © keith morris / red snapper web designs / keith@artx.co.uk