Sunday, 30 March 2014
Theatre review: BASH latterday plays
Philip Scott-Wallace performs iphigenia in orem, a frightening meditation on guilt, cold-blooded practicality and, I felt was the ultimate point, the chilling ability to shrug off responsibility. The misogyny LaBute is often accused of, and which is unarguably a feature of many of his characters, shows up in this opening play, one particular woman getting a lot of the blame for the narrator's sins, and his discomfort with how to treat the sexes apparent everywhere in his speech.
John (Tom Vallen) and Sue (Dani Harrison) are a young couple who appear to be telling a story together but, as the play progresses, it becomes obvious they're actually both monologueing, giving their own versions of a trip to New York for a big party. a gaggle of saints gives the collection its overall title with its two meanings of the word "bash," and is the most ruthless attack of the three on religion, a story of scripture giving people carte blanche to vent their hatred with a smile on their faces.
Hatred of some kind is key to all three plays, and the final example sees the longest-nursed, most personal hatred on show here. When he called his final piece medea redux LaBute clearly knew he was giving away the ending, but the story of a woman recalling how she was seduced at 13 by a teacher is intricately enough put together to deliver a final punch of a different kind.
Rebecca Hickey gives a calm, eerie instability to her modern-day Medea, and this undertone of madness and horror to apparently amiable, sociable people is a feature well-expressed by the whole cast: Scott-Wallace's character has a sociopathic touch in the way he disconnects from his actions, while Harrison's smile covers a never-exposed but always-apparent hysteria as she allows her brash boyfriend to take centre stage. I've always liked LaBute's work and this is some of the best I've seen - utterly vicious but unmissable.
BASH latterday plays by Neil LaBute is booking until the 12th of April at the Old Red Lion Theatre.
Running time: 1 hour 35 minutes straight through.