Review: Moonfleece, Rich Mix

“Don’t heckle a heckler, educate through reasonable debate”

I had certain expectations of Moonfleece, largely influenced by the fact that the BNP had roundly denounced the play even before it had opened at Bethnal Green’s Rich Mix, which is virtually a recommendation in itself, and the opening scenes seemed to confirm them with a group of young men, all members of a far-right political party, converging on an abandoned East London tower block and attempting to turf out a mixed-race squatter. But as the tale unfolds, it becomes apparent that this is a tale of secrets and lies, of bonds between families and friends, and the way in which these can be manipulated to support an ideology, however extreme: the politics is in the background rather than the forefront.

The meeting has been called by Curtis, the stepson of a Nick Griffin-like fascist political leader, in the tower block that was his former family home as he is being haunted by the memories and ghost of his older brother. He has asked his ex Sarah to bring a psychic friend Nina in order to conduct a séance to try and get to the bottom of things, but with her arrival comes a diverse group of her friends, including a gay student journalist, and a strident Indian best friend. Curtis is then forced to confront the major emotional crises of his life, namely the deaths of his father and brother and the circumstances that have led to him adhering to his stepfather’s party and its bigoted credo, throwing up the differences in his current friends, also party members, and the more liberal grouping of friends from his old life, surrounding his ex-girlfriend. And then there’s the squatters with a gift for storytelling, who has a story of particular significance to Curtis. Continue reading “Review: Moonfleece, Rich Mix”

Review: The Fastest Clock in the Universe, Hampstead Theatre

“Fuck the milk of human kindness…welcome to the abattoir”

It’s a wonder anyone still lives in East London given the treatment it gets in our cultural life, and Philip Ridley’s play The Fastest Clock in the Universe is no exception to characterising it as a place of danger, despair and delusion. The play was very well received on its 1992 debut, where it starred a little known actor called Jude Law…, and Ridley’s writing is very much his own unique style, combining a raw sense of the ugliness of the world with a fantastical, almost child-like playfulness that makes for a disarming combination. This was also a first trip (I think) to the Hampstead Theatre for me, incidentally also the venue where the show premiered.

Here, the 30 year old Cougar Glass is preparing for his birthday party with older flatmate Captain Tock in the same way he’s done for years – everyone pretends it is his 19th birthday, Tock provides cards and presents from imaginary friends and Cougar procures his own favourite gift in the shape of a nubile teenage boy. But this year, the target he has groomed, Foxtrot Darling, has brought along his rather pregnant girlfriend, Sherbet Gravel, (one assumes these names are picked by some kind of random generator…) and so the party doesn’t anywhere near as smoothly as planned. Continue reading “Review: The Fastest Clock in the Universe, Hampstead Theatre”