Presley and Haley Stray (George Blagden and Hayley Squires) live in their East End family home and exist primarily on chocolate and drugs. With their parents having mysteriously disappeared, the two find comfort in reliving their childhood until Presley sees two men, Cosmo Disney (Tom Rhys Harries) and Pitchfork (Seun Sote), and invites them in. Gruesome stories and desolate dreams are recounted in the Shoreditch Town Hall basement, with the long room illuminated by lamps and fenced in by scattered furniture as audience seating.
Not much happens, yet the claustrophobic and tense space magnify the ensemble’s performances. Rhys Harries dazzles as the sinister, snake-like showman who eats cockroaches for entertainment, but it’s Blagden who really gets under the skin -- repeating his nightmares with increased frenzy, while retaining a delicate affection for his sister.
What strikes hardest in Ridley’s writing is the recurring theme of watching pain, and more disturbingly, the enjoyment of it. As the stories bleed into each other, so too do the characters (Presley dreams of a murderer called Pitchfork Disney), and the common factor of suffering becomes clearest. But perhaps Lloyd’s production builds too early, and it struggles to bring home the final moments in the Stray home.
Nevertheless, this is a striking and strong production that demonstrates the last power of Ridley's early work. And running alongside it later in the month will be the premiere of his new play, Killer. So while perhaps not a typical merry jaunt to the theatre, a double-bill of Ridley, both old and new, is sure to be an unsettling and lingering experience.
|What||The Pitchfork Disney review, Shoreditch Town Hall|
|Where||Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old Street, EC1V 9LT | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Old Street (underground)|
27 Jan 17 – 18 Mar 17, Check website for various timings
|Price||£18 - £28|
|Website||Click here to book via Shoreditch Town Hall|