No Milk for The Foxes

Conrad Murray & Paul Cree
Beats & Elements
Camden People's Theatre

Paul Cree as Marx and Conrad Murray as Sparx

In this hour-long two hander, filmed at Camden People's Theatre in 2015, writers Paul Cree and Conrad Murray are Marx and Sparx, two young security guards on zero-hour contracts doing the night shift together.

Sparx, who never seems to do any actual work, complains about the job, the hours, the pay and about not getting paid when they were supposed to, but he is all talk and rolls over like a kitten on the phone to the boss. Marx, on the other hand, takes care with his work and is saving up to take his girlfriend on a dream holiday. Marx studies the news in the newspapers, whereas Sparx prefers to get his information from YouTube videos.

As the shift rolls on, they talk about race—Sparx is half Indian—unions—Marx is convinced of the power of being in a union, but Sparx thinks he is better taking care of himself—about the snobbery of some against the working classes—a relative of Marx dismisses those who used to shop in Woolworth's as 'chavs'; Sparx talks about a young single mother who helped out in the local community but who had rubbish dumped in her garden and so was branded by the local paper a "tramp"—about signing on and filling in jobseeker forms and generally about the hopes and dreams of a couple of young working class lads from London.

The dialogue is occasionally a bit contrived but there is a lot of sparkling wit in the lines with some real laugh-out-loud moments, all delivered well in a production that maintains a good pace for most of the time—the production is also directed by Murray—although the breaks between scenes feel a bit long when you're watching on a screen. The scenes are occasionally punctuated by musical interludes featuring beatboxing and live looping from Murray and sometimes rapping from them both, which sounds great.

The recording is described as "for archival purposes" so the quality isn't great. The fixed camera, once it is settled in position, gets a pretty good quality picture, if perhaps not the best angle, but there is some very rough editing to cut to a wobbly close-up camera whose colour balance is very different and where the lip-sync can vary. The sound is clear enough, but there are subtitles throughout to help, although not during the rap numbers where they may have been useful.

The company has said that it has released this five-year-old recording during lockdown, "to create more diversity amongst the current streamed theatre shows and productions". There's certainly some entertainment to be had from spending an hour in the company of these two working-class lads.

Reviewer: David Chadderton

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