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Wretch (Colchester)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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It’s difficult to feel much sympathy for the young man so forensically examined by Gari Jones in his aptly-named one-man show Wretch. He self-harms, is somewhat paranoid and we meet him in the dilapidated inner-city room (a squat, perhaps?) which he calls home. When he ventures outside, it’s to visit equally grimy pubs or mooch along the pavements and into stations in his not-quite aimless search for the girl of his fantasies.

Those dreams, of course, are closer akin to nightmares. Yes, there are comic moments (such as dressing  in a monstrously flowered outfit complete with high-heeled shoes).The relentless flow of words is punctuated visually by a very good set by Amy Yardley and some even better animations and lighting effects by Vanja Sheremetkoski and Emily Holmden respectively. Chris Murray’s use of sound blends extremely fallible karaoke with rock and classical doom chords.

There’s little fault to find with Jones’ acting or writing – you feel that he’s right inside the skin of his creation – but I can’t help feeling that calling in another director might have added an element of focus which at times come close to dissolution. The sad central character bemoans the fact that he has “no control over the walls themselves” as the world outside his door and window progresses. But, at the end, you feel his problems are largely of his own making. And, unfortunately, don't much care.


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