THEATRE / Porcelain - Royal Court, Theatre Upstairs

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The Independent Culture
What does the word 'porcelain' suggest to you? Something delicate, willow-patterned perhaps? Or something you point Percy at? Both associations work for Chay Yew's new play, an investigation into the murder by a young Chinese boy of his male lover in a Bethnal Green toilet. Like the china that fascinates the accused (he's absorbed by the idea of coarse grains creating so fragile an end- product), the writing is both crude and tender; it moves and it shocks.

For the most part, the play is delivered in sound-bites; five men sit in a row conveying the story in relay - chirping out news bulletins, conducting vox-pop interviews, commenting on the case as journalists, protagonists, policemen, members of the public. But, within the babble, are moments of relative stillness - the conversations between the boy (Daniel York) and the criminal psychologist employed to determine his sanity (David Tysall). The acting is excellent throughout, but in these brief exchanges, particularly, a sharp picture of both men's vulnerability, desperation and intelligence is superbly portrayed. Not a crack to be seen.

To 22 Aug (071-730 1745)