Theatre: Cyber-pervs tracked on a web of deceit

DEADMEAT

CURTAIN THEATRE

WEST YORKSHIRE PLAYHOUSE

LEEDS

WHAT DOES the nickname "Q" mean to you? Maybe you're of the generation that would associate it with Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, editor of The Oxford Book of English Verse and a prime exemplar of the kind of gentlemanly Eng Lit scholarship that Leavis and gang wanted to sweep aside. If so, you are unlikely to get much of a kick out of Deadmeat, currently playing in the Courtyard Theatre of the West Yorkshire Playhouse, for the "Q" who wrote the book on which this entertainment is based, is far removed from that old Cambridge belletrist.

Described as "a Maverick Londoner, and multi-media celebrity" who has been "a regular feature of London's clubland over the last five years", Q has collaborated with director Jude Kelly on the theatrical version of a novel which, with a cast of urban blacks, sucks you into a world dominated by digital technology, drugs and chilling out.

Accordingly, the Courtyard has been transmogrified into a kind of cyber night-club, resonating to the pounding Afro-beat of Tony Allen's hypnotic drums. The normal seating has been ripped out and replaced with a network of catwalks around which the audience gather, nursing drinks. Giant screens throw up website visuals and images that chime or strike distressing discords with the story.

The dialogue regularly veers into heightened near-verse, full of internal echoings ("Freak me with those special treats that make me scream like a little girl") or into outright rap. There's stylisation too, in the body language - erotic confrontations present prize fights in a boxing ring between dressing-gowned lovers-aggressors. Some of the personnel only appear in filmed close-up, their disembodied faces looming intimidatingly over the life-size actors who are present in the flesh. Ian McKellen, in this mode, plays a pervy, corrupt art dealer, though the interaction between screens and stage was a trifle complicated the night I saw the show as Sir Ian was also very much there in person, plus entourage, gazing intently at himself and, at the end, executing a beautifully acted moment of modest resistance to taking a bow.

My reaction to the event was: great atmosphere, shame about the story. This latter focuses on "cyber-solicitation"; paedophiles who stalk children in chat rooms - or rather, chat-up rooms - on the Internet.

Tracking down these men, there's a Cyber Vigilante who is leading a string of bloody corpses in his wake. My worries about this plot are technical and moral. As plays such as Closer have shown, part of the attraction of communicating via the Web is the licence it gives to pure (and impure) pretence, the invention of identities. Q's story depends upon only non- paedophiles being wise to this characteristic. It attributes touching naivety to child molesters.

Secondly, Deadmeat seems to exploit paedophilia for its sensational aspects. The questions it raises are couched so crudely (if you knew who the Cyber Vigilante was, would you shop him?), but as a sensitive, ethical debate, the evening is well-nigh worthless. Jude Kelly is on to something, though, with this style of presentation, and should push it further with better material.

Until 5 June. Box office: 0113 213 7700. Website: www.dead meat.com

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    10 best high-end laptops

    10 best high-end laptops

    From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
    Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum