THEATRE : Santa's sweet revenge
Boys' Stuff Crucible Studio, Sheffield
Monday 20 March 1995
His mockery and alienation are especially understandable when he must face Christmas dinner with his sister and brother-in-law, Donna and Duncan, who, with their new first-born see themselves as the Holy Family accessorised by Debenhams. It gets worse: their present to Angie is a phial of Duncan's sperm. Though bringing a whole new perspective to what counts in gift giving, this is not appreciated and, his secret revealed, the remaining action is devoted to Nick's calculated, sadistic revenge.
The first thing to be said about Richard Hurford's new play is how well- crafted this action is. His exposition, development, crisis and climax is expertly plotted and, under Damian Cruden's excellent direction, gathers more and more of our interest as it proceeds.
The second half quickens powerfully, and even though elements of the extreme tension, such as Nick's production of a pistol, are so evidently manipulative, they are genuinely scary and come along with more original surprises.
Another positive quality in the piece is Hurford's capacity to slide disquietingly among dramatic styles. There is, for instance, a recognisable bit of business about getting Christmas lights to work and the father- son initiations into plug wiring. These realistic touches are then swept up in the broader movement of black farce as Nick does for Donna with an exploding pudding, only for this to tighten into straight thriller mode in his humiliation of Duncan. Finally, the demons that make Nick's "brain no place to bring up a child" are stunningly realised by Liam Doona's design in a crucial shift to grotesque fantasy. I am less sure that the play is adding much to our understanding of the male psyche and the debilitating effects of boys' stuff... that pistol et al. The cause and effect of Nick's infertility and disturbance is unsatisfyingly simple, however skilfully presented.
None the less this is a copious and powerful play that evidently absorbed its small but youthful audience. Stuart McQuarrie, with a wide, engaging yet chilling smile is excellent as Nick, and is strongly supported by Fiona Bruce as Angie, Hilary McLean as Donna and Malcolm Scates as Duncan. Their commitment matches that of the Crucible Studio's adventurous programming. You'll not see this on TV.
n Until 25 Mar; Box-office: 0114-276 9922
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Keira Knightley topless: Usually conservative actress does own take on #Freethenipple campaign for Interview Magazine
- 2 Joan Rivers: 'Palestinians deserve to be dead'
- 3 Lady al-Qa’ida: On the trail of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, the world’s most wanted prisoner
- 4 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 5 It's not just the savagery of Isis that is shocking – its weaponry is too
Strictly Come Dancing 2014: Gregg Wallace joins line-up as final celebrities revealed
Unseen Charlie and the Chocolate Factory chapter deemed 'too subversive' released
X Factor, ITV, review: Simon Cowell banned sob stories but Cheryl Cole can’t stop crying
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster
Best movies on Netflix UK and US: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
- < Previous
- Next >