England’s most difficult, uncompromising dramatists – Bond, Howard Barker, Gregory Motton – sometimes flourish more often in Germany and France; Olly’s Prison, a 1993 teleplay directed by Roy Battersby, has already been seen on stages in Berlin and Avignon.
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.
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.