Cuckoos

Giuseppe Manfridi, in a version by Colin Teevan
Barbican Pit
(2003)

This is a strange, hour-long play about sexual couplings of every type. It is likely to shock, as it addresses pretty much every taboo in the book.

At the commencement, young Tito (Mark Rice-Oxley) is irretrievably attached to a lady old enough to be his mother. This is the result of a rather too successful act of sodomy. Jessica Turner's Beatrice has a holy bent, which is unfortunate for her as the story plays out.

Luckily, Tito's father, Tobia (played by David Yelland, a favourite of director Sir Peter Hall) is a gynaecologist. He is therefore enlisted to separate the unhappy couple who have by now sheltered under a parachute in Lucy Hall's widescreen bedsit.

To pass the time, the older pair tell tales of a youth that they have shared. It transpires that Tobia has unwittingly committed incest with his sister while the glued pair are mother and son.

This all proves too much for the convent-educated Beatrice who commits the quadrupally mortal sin of suicide whilst in a fearful sex act outside marriage, with her illegitimate son.

This is Theatre of Excess and while fun to those of a broad-minded disposition who like double-entendres, it doesn't necessarily say very much about the human condition.

It is, however, graced by excellent and (in two cases) extremely energetic peformances from a good cast. They are well-directed by Sir Peter and his young assistant, Joe Hill-Gibbins, the latter a man already building a reputation in this genre.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher