Friday, July 13, 2007

The Pain and The Itch

The Financial Times review of The Pain and The Itch currently playing at the Royal Court begins, "A rule of thumb in drama: the smarter the sitting room, the greater the mess that is likely to be swept under the metaphorical carpet. In Clay and Kelly’s minimalist living room the sofa is streamlined, the lines are sleek – and the mess is big indeed."

So true. Bruce Norris has concocted a brilliant mess in this play, which the audience only fully understands at the very end. Ensemble casts at the Royal Court never disappoint and this one was particularly good - especially the dreamy Matthew Macfayden. He plays a petulant boy stuck in the body of a man who has discovered the status that a BMW can provide - and what else is a yuppie if not this? I especially loved the scene where he tries to explain to a confused, foreign guest that the distressed wood dining table is supposed to look that way. Michael Billington's review is here.

Quite brilliant to have a mysteriously gnawed avocado as both an element of suspense and a crucial metaphor running through the play. And one of the best elements was the manner in which the characters spoke, written directly into the text. God, it was funny. And as I am often teased for speaking in numerals, I felt slightly self-conscious. The whole point?

KELLY: Unless you know some human that bites into an avocado like it was an apple, all right? So, yes, some non-human creature has entered our house and is now feasting on our avocados?

CLAY: And of course the mind devises these scenarios.

KELLY: But the bottom line is: one, what sort of toothed creature are we dealing with; two, what is the point of entry; and three, where exactly is it now?

No comments: