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The Crimson Retribution (24:7 Festival)

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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Amy (Emily Fleeshman) has a nightmare in which a man in a crimson mask saves her from a mugger. Shockingly this is no dream – her saviour is not only real he has moved in and is seeking retribution.

Writer Steve Pearce has a real understanding of the superhero genre. Rather than offer us the now traditional dark avenger his Crimson Retribution represents hope in a bleak urban environment. It helps that the concept is conveyed in a script full of sparkling dialogue and characters about whom you actually care.

The character of the Crimson Retribution is a comedic gem. Paul Sockett poses as if carved from granite speaking every line (even offers of cups of tea) in a heroic timbre without the least sign of irony. Fleeshman’s Amy – battered not yet broken by life- matches him. She shows Amy’s (and our) desperate but rarely articulated longing for a hero along with a nagging fear that she might not be worthy of such intervention.

David Degiorgio’s teeth and trousers Kyle is a nicely hissable villain and Alex Rogerson just about makes Sean needy but vulnerable instead of bloody irritating. It is still hard to understand what Amy sees in him.

Director Clare Howdon widens the references from the comics to include references also to films – the fight after the mugging taking place in Matrix style slow motion. She uses local artist Hammo’s clear and bright graphics as much more than just background setting the scene for the frightening city at night and creating the disorienting effect of the attack upon Amy.

Howden takes risks all of which work. Turning the housework into a dance could have been distracting or too cute but is so well judged that it simply adds to the considerable charm of the play.

You might not leave The Crimson Retribution with more hope than when you entered but you will certainly feel much happier. Spread the word - the word is Retribution.

- Dave Cunningham


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