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‘Pale wife, factory slug, limp man and a black hole’ @ Alma Tavern Theatre ★★★★★

It is raw. It is visceral. It is close to the bone most of the time, written with a razor-blade precision.

By Milan Perera, Second Year English

It is raw. It is visceral. It is close to the bone most of the time, written with a razor-blade precision.

A tale of tedious hospitality, awkward silences, and coarse behaviour. WORMS theatre company is the creative force behind the two-act play.

It is a candid, or perhaps too candid portrayal of the dysfunctional modern family unit assailed with fads and trends of contemporary living. The play runs along the line of a ‘dinner party gone awry’, closely resembling the acclaimed 1970s Mike Leigh play, Abigail’s Party. It revolves around the lives of sisters, Moonie and Sally and their husbands.

Bobby Busvine kicked off the opening narrative monologue with a sardonic and menacing smile, hinting at the foreboding doom. The dinner party, needless to say, is far from smooth. Moonie (played by Alice Buchanan) is desperately unhappy with her emotionally detached husband Stuart (Matthew Carver) who is lost in his world of literary achievements. His attempt to write the consummate prose line does not remotely interest Moonie, as he gets animated with a child-like earnestness.

Sally (Tallulah Brooks) secretly cradles a doll and drops it abruptly every time someone walks in. It is no doubt her way of processing her bereavement of losing a child. Her husband Paddy (George Pack) who is a factory hand is in a downward spiral of alcohol abuse. Paddy, who initially treated Stuart with a thinly veiled contempt for his bookish pretensions, begins to thaw his icy reception as the play progresses.

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Alice Buchanan captures the raucous and vexing behaviour of Moonie to a tee, as she screams and cries amidst a fug of whisky and cigarette smoke. She continually undermines Stuart in front of their hosts and pours scorn on her sister. The evening turns into an unmitigated disaster as an unwelcome guest, Humphreys (Bobby Busvine) makes an appearance.

In a pervasive atmosphere of squabbling and flirting, the play turns into a blood bath of Macbethian proportions, with the audience needing a long couple of minutes to regain the vertical as the play reached the curtain call.

This dark comedy has a twang of awkwardness and silence akin to the writings of Larry David and Ricky Gervais. The playwright, Teddy Monroe adeptly infuses some perennial philosophical tropes and existential questions such as ‘how can you live without being loved?’

The triumvirate creative cohort includes Ruth Skirrow, Tom Wilson and the playwright Teddy Monroe who carefully veered away from creating two-dimensional caricature characters, which no doubt would have engendered predictable laughs from the audience. The carefully crafted characters are far more relatable than one would admit.

The venue also added an extra layer of intimacy - the renowned Alma Tavern Theatre allowing for a figurative and literal closer look at each character. This bold and brilliant production is without a doubt a precursor to the future productions of this fledgling theatre collective that seemed to have made their entrance felt.

Featured Image: Epigram

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