Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

Flesh Wound

Ché Walker
Royal Court Theatre Upstairs
(2003)

This three-hander paints a horrible picture of gang wars amongst Camden Catholic Mafiosi. When Vincent is accused of getting the backward daughter of the local hoodlums pregnant, an almost classical tragedy ensues.

The play is set in the twentieth-floor council flat occupied by Deirdra, played by Eastenders' Mel (Tamzin Outhwaite). Her attempts to read a Mills and Boon library book are constantly interrupted by unbelievable events.

First, the local hitman, Michael Attwell's Joseph, turns up looking for her brother Vincen, played by Andrew Tiernan. He eventually persuades her that he is Vincent's father whom they had assumed long-dead. On Vincent's panicked arrival, the same process of persuasion is repeated.

Various shenanigans, mostly violent ensue until father (whose motives are, to say the least, ambiguous) and son go down like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, while Deirdra plays the Katharine Ross part, nursing the baby that is this family's dubious future.

The play is very inconsistent with a good number of tremendously perceptive, often funny lines split by clichés and some very uneven characterisation. Vincent, in particular, veers from brainless brute to sensitive sage in seconds.

Director Wilson Milam tends to be good with violence as he demonstrated in Hurlyburly and The Lieutenant of Inishmore. While this is a plus, on press night his actors seemed under-rehearsed as they attempted to get to grips with their lines. There is some promising writing here but at the moment, it is struggling to get out.

This review originally appeared on Theatreworld in a slightly different version

Reviewer: Philip Fisher