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A CurtainUp London Review
Pests is about two sisters, Pink (Sinead Matthews) and Rolly (Ellie Kendrick). Rolly, heavily pregnant has just been released from prison and arrives at the room her sister Pink lives in. The room has a pile of mattresses with the foam innards spilling out onto the floor. It is seedy and sordid and uncompromising.
What is remarkable about this play is the language. Some of it is like gangsta street speak, some seems to be made up, words like violationary to mean violating and vexationary to mean vexatious. I do not know whether this is genuine language that Franzmann heard when researching her play among women prisoners or whether she has invented it. The effect is a stylised code which is closed to those outside their immediate society.
These women are the flotsam and jetsam of society, on the edge, their lives reduced by heroin addiction with sex as currency. Products of childhood abuse, there is no hope in Franzmann's play. It makes for distressing and disturbing viewing.
Sinead Matthews has a very distinctive voice with a husky crack to it that I would recognise anywhere but here she is using a vocabulary of alienation. Ellie Kendrick as Rolly tries for normality, a job as a cleaner, to clean up the flat while singing a song from The Wizard of Oz. Pink has a vicious sense of humour as she apes the middle classes but her life is bound on a destructive trajectory. A video projected spreading amoeba oozes on the mattresses like a cancerous growth as Pink's mental health breaks down.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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