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Review: The grimly poetic Debris at Southwark Playhouse

Debris, Harry McEntire (Michael) and Leila Mimmack (Michelle), photo credit Richard Davenport RWD187
Harry McEntire and Leila Mimmack in Debris, Southwark Playhouse Photo by Richard Davenport

I'm a huge Philip Ridley fan and Dennis Kelly's writing reminds me of him. Kelly's play Debris -  receiving a 10th anniversary brush down at the Southwark Playhouse - has a similar poetry, a potent mix of shockingly grim reality, black humour and a narrative that is evocative and affecting.

Brother and sister Michael (Harry McEntire) and Michelle (Leila Mimmack) recount the story of their lives blending fantasy and reality with a child's interpretation and some scarily mature observations. It jumps back and forth in time and between the siblings eventually drawing everything together.

Michelle believes her dead mother a saint and tells several different versions of her death over the course of the play among which the truth is hidden. Their father is an alcoholic and fixated with Christ. Michael's story of his father's Crucifixion obsession is told with sickeningly vivid imagery and yet is a times strangely funny.

Michael himself becomes attached to a baby he finds abandoned in the rubbish and it is this relationship that ultimately and ironically has the most devastating affect on the two:

He is now aware

That there are lives different from ours

Things won't be the same

Michael and Michelle are terribly let down by the adults around them. Danger, threat and neglect is ever present. The world they know is dirty, decaying and corrupt and yet there is an innocence and purity to their outlook that make theirs a compelling story.

Debris meditates on love, loss and faith in desolate world.  It is superbly and sublimely performed by McEntire and Mimmack and well worth a look, particularly if you are a Ridley fan.

Running time is approximately 70 minutes and it is playing in the small space at the Southwark Playhouse until May 17.

Click on the slide show for all the production shots by photographer Richard Davenport.



Who should be sat behind me but Tom Goodman-Hill who was in Richard II with Mr W.