13 June 2012
Jimmy Osborne’s ‘Meat’ was a little charred in places and in others too rare, which I’m sorry to say as there were some good performances and great humourous touche, writes Susan Hallissey...
As ‘Vincent’ (Graham Turner) returns home from his job at the slaughterhouse we enter the world of a man and his family in tatters, due to the monotony of his work and the alienation he feels as younger men, who don’t take a pride in their job, enter the abattoir.
As he says at one point, after an animal is still ‘twitching’, that the creature almost wanted to ‘take the matter into his own hands.’ To this effect the stark white stage doubles as an abattoir/kitchen and its red accessories work well to reflect the image of blood.
This piece is not without moments of humour and ‘Vincent’s’ daughter ‘Carla’, superbly portrayed by Charlotte Whitaker, gives an injection of energy. ‘Joy’ (Tracy Brabin) is the downtrodden wife, whose life depends on becoming the sandwich maker on the funeral committee after a young lad, ‘Rob’, the menacing Ian Weichart, is stabbed to death in town. ‘Joy’ gives the element of dreariness this family have come to accept as everyday life.
As ‘Vincent’ compares the shocked people of the town to the sheep he slaughters daily, his accounts of the lad go mostly unheard as ‘Joy’ and ‘Carla’ are swept along by the importance of a funeral that may be televised and become the event of the year.
As revelations are disclosed this play is not sure exactly what it wants to say, and the perpetrator comes as no surprise as he broods about the stage from the beginning. The power struggle in the house changes hands; however, by the end I wasn’t sure who was in charge.
The staging is sharp and the funeral scene in particular works well as we are privy to snippets of conversation not only about ‘Rob’s’ life but the importance of wearing the right dress. Later Ian Weichart doubles well as the bereaved mother ‘Sandra.’
At one point ‘Vincent’ talks of his early days at the slaughterhouse and how he heard ‘pigs squealing’ when he tried to sleep – this imagery could have been used more effectively and proved that there was some good writing in much of this production.
At one hour and forty minutes I felt ‘Meat’ was overcooked by about 20minutes!
503 Battersea Park
Road, London SW11 3BW
until 30 June 2012
Tues-Sat 7.45pm, Sun 5pm
Box Office: 020 7978 7040
www.theatre503.com £9, £14
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