REVIEW The hilarious Dirty Great Love Story, Arts Theatre
That was January in London theatre land

Review: Sequined jackets and rubber outfits in Pitchfork Disney, Shoreditch Town Hall

TPD_Large_450_245_80_s_c1-1Tom Rhys Harries is hanging from some ceiling pipes, wearing a sequinned jacket. I'm having flash backs to when he played Silver Johnny in Mojo but here the boot is firmly on the other foot. In Mojo he was an innocent victim, in Pitchfork Disney he is a charming threat in fact his performance reminded me a little of Ben Whishaw's Baby who tortures Silver Johnny.

Here he plays Cosmo Disney, hair bleach blond, shaved at the sides and quiffed, with dress shirt, bow tie and sequinned jacket. He's a performer but as this is a Philip Ridley play his is a macabre and stomach churning act.

Cosmo turns up sick at the house of siblings Haley and Presley (Hayley Squires and George Blagden) where they live in almost perfect, self-induced isolation, eating only chocolate and entertaining each other with retelling the same stories. Cosmo disrupts the routine and you can never quite tell whether his motives are good or bad and then his associate Pitchfork (Seun Shote) turns up. Is the terror about to start?

If you've seen Mercury Fur, Fastest Clock in the Universe or Tender Napalm you'll have an idea Philip Ridley's poetic, metaphorical style. He gives an impression of a dystopian world outside the house without ever explicitly describing it. Haley and Presley talk of their dreams and nightmares so how can you tell what is real and what is part of their imagination? And if it is imagination it chocolate coated-macabre, where things are not quite right and not quite off. There is a pervading sense of disquiet as the plays slips from child like innocence to horror in the flick of a grass snake's tongue. Dreams can turn to nightmares so can you ever truly escape?

Performed underneath Shoreditch Town Hall in a long basement room with exposed pipes and a mixture of chairs and other bits of furniture for the audience to sit on (get there early for the best choice) only the occasional faint rumble of a train from somewhere over head reminds you life goes on in the outside world. Director Jamie Lloyd has chosen a wholly appropriate place to put on this production.

Different people will take different things away and given what is going in the world the idea of living off chocolate and taking sleeping drugs feels quite appealing even if the play shows otherwise.

Pitchfork Disney is a series of contrasts and irony and the drama is often in the juxtaposition. It won't be to everyone's taste but it is to mine. I'm giving it four stars.

You can see it at Shoreditch Town Hall until Saturday March 18 and it is 90 minutes without an interval.

Other Philip Ridley plays I've seen:

Shivered, Southwark Playhouse

Leaves of Glass, Soho Theatre - first play I saw Ben Whishaw in

Tender Napalm, Southwark Playhouse - with Vinette Robinson of Sherlock fame

Mercury Fur, Old Red Lion - not the Ben Whishaw version sadly but with pre-popstar Olly Alexander