Capturing the restless uncertainty of youth with realistic undertones and yet presented with a gentle sense of surrealism, Milked is a play that delivers on several levels.
The two-hander gives us a glimpse into the lives of childhood friends Paul (Adam Rudmore) and Snowy (Oliver Mott), both struggling with the realisation that being an adult doesn’t magically happen overnight. Paul has graduated with a degree in history and wants to work in the media whereas Snowy isn’t sure and isn’t stressed by this knowledge.
Whilst Paul toils away calling recruitment companies and filling out application forms, Snowy is out enjoying the countryside, which is where he finds Sandy, the dying cow.
The unseen Sandy is the third main character in this script and her fate drives most of the plot points. They can’t call a vet so what should they do? Paul and Snowy consider suffocation with a duvet, a shot to the head with an airgun, drowning and even cutting down a tree at such an angle that it will land on her.
They first attempt to cure her however, and this decision leads to one of the most memorable visual moments of the production: the character of Paul standing absolutely still with a pained expression and a glove covered in cow dung. Rudmore and Mott play this beautifully, allowing a pause before continuing their awkward conversation, both staring at the glove.
Morbid though these plans may sound, they give both men a purpose and a distraction from the real world, the ideal of which appears to be just out of reach.
Rudmore creates a wonderfully self-conscious Paul with stiff body language and snappy delivery. His mounting desperation during his fruitless job hunt is entirely believable, as is the tone in which he reflects that for him the countryside is a prison without walls.
In total contrast Mott’s Snowy is completely relaxed and apparently aimless. He enjoys some of the funniest lines and delivers them in an unassuming way matching his slouched posture and baggy combats.
With scenes like snapshots the action moves quickly and the floor becomes strewn with props. This is a neat touch reinforcing their own indecision and also demonstrating how things seemingly important, are quickly discarded.
Although this play presents the story of two young men with rural upbringings the themes speak to a much wider audience; to young people everywhere who’ve done everything right and can’t get a break and to people everywhere who feel like life is happening to someone else.
Funny, truthful and tightly-written, Milked is an understated piece of theatre that speaks loudly.
Reviewer: Amy Yorston