The Cock Tavern’s two-month Edward Bond festival provides a great opportunity to take a rain check on one of our most significant contemporary dramatists who continues to slip in and out of the public’s awareness.
It’s more than worth a close-up look: tough, gruesome, extremely violent in its study of blame and versions of innocence. Not many laughs. Those left behind take revenge. A house-cleaner tries to take advantage.
The plot accelerates at a hectic pace in a bitty, sawn-off structure not ideally suited for theatre; Gareth Corke’s resourceful, snappily organized production tries to keep pace. The climactic fist fight is one of the best, and most upsetting, I’ve ever seen.
Ewan Bailey’s bear-like Mike is a little too cuddly and impenetrable. Melissa Suffield (Lucy Beale in EastEnders) plays half an hour of stillness and silence with a rare concentration.
The choice performance is Elicia Daly’s as the Irish neighbour, devious and devoted, but there’s a fire and purpose running through the whole presentation: good soundtrack and stage-management, too.