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A CurtainUp Review
Ashley (Polly Lee) and Dave (Vincent Kartheiser) are teenage prostitutes whose dreams go no further than making enough each night to eat and maybe stay in a cheap hotel. Fran (Brienan Nequa Bryant) is older and more experienced. She makesgood money and sharing a flat with her big lusty sister Donna (Janelle Anne Robinson). She is an inspiration for Dave aspirations to match her in being streetwise and profitable.
Dave uses the money from one lucrative evening in Manchester to leave Ashley and move to London. There he becomes a model and club kid. In the meantime Donna's taste for underaged Paki delivery boys, gets her and Fran into trouble. But Fran also manages to escape to London, where she runs into Dave. They hang on to the club life for a while, but their old life comes back to haunt them one night when Ashley makes a sudden appearance.
All the kids are bluntly honest about their wants and the demands of the life they live. We are well aware that they aren't long for this world.
Playwright Dudley has a great ear for dialogue, and truthfully realized characters. He relates their story without skirting the unsettling reality that they often enjoy their work. His writing is brutal and crisp, but full of warmth.
Michael Morris' direction highlights the emotional connections, allowing the story to spin around the relationships rather than around the dismal scene The cast is young and fierce. Kartheiser and Bryant have a weirdly kinetic energy together. Robinson's unselfconscious Donna provides the comic relief. All show a real facility with the heavy Manchester accent and slangy dialogue. Indeed, the script, excellent though it is, would fall flat without such a talented cast to keep these characters three-dimensional.
The production features Michael Brown's bleak set -- bare steel frame set against a brick wall -- highlighted by Jeff Croiter lighting and Bart Fasbinder's soundscape.
Like plays from playwrights noted for their bleak characters and strong langues (e.g. Mark Ravenhill), Slag Heap is going to put off those looking for light entertainment or uplifting stories. But as it is cheerless, it's also darkly funny.
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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At This Theater
Leonard Maltin's 2005 Movie Guide
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
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