Angel in the Abattoir

Dave Florez’s new play Angel in the Abattoir questions the role and even the possibility of the modern hero. Angel (Phil Nichol), a Scot-Spaniard who combines all the passion of the Iberian Peninsula with the aggression of Leith, wants to be a hero in the mould of Achilles and Theseus. A burgeoning relationship with the sexy but distant Lorna may be his chance to prove himself before more unsettling truths are revealed.

It is in its sillier moments that the play works best. There are some wonderful comic set pieces.

Nichol is an infectious and likeable performer, able to turn from silliness to pathos with admirable ease. His turn as Lorna’s father is genuinely chilling. He is a paternalistic bogeyman with a knack for sending shivers down the spine with revelations that are delivered with an unnerving matter-of-factness. However, his comic timing is sometimes off, even if only slightly. The jokes themselves are hit and miss, with marginally more hits than misses. The opening riff on a how a carelessly thrown bag is actually an ingenious metaphor for the state of the current Spanish economy is very funny, but these are followed by a strange array of ‘Jesus isn’t real’ jokes which seem snide rather than witty.

It is in its sillier moments that the play works best. There are some wonderful comic set pieces. For example, a house party that takes a nasty turn (wince-inducing for male audience members) and a birth in the aisles of a Spanish supermarket are particularly engrossing. But towards the end things become increasingly forced in a desperate bid for seriousness. Misery piles upon misery in melodramatic fashion, each time served with a generous portion of platitudes (‘this is the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning’).

There is also a problem with the presentation of the love interest Lorna. Her character achieves no more distinction than being the angelic slut. Not only is this limiting in and of itself but it also undermines the credibility of Angel’s devotion to her. A charming if flawed piece, Angel in the Abattoir is neither theatrical heaven nor hell but somewhere in between.  

Reviews by Rory Mackenzie

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Performances

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The Blurb

Lost love, betrayal and wanting to be a hero. Angel teeters on the edge of sanity – will he fly or fall? Humourous and dark, the story tackles themes of corruption and abuse, with an explosive climax. The final instalment in a triptych of award-winning monologues. Phil Nichol performs a gripping drama about a Spaniard in Edinburgh. Bringing together the Fringe First-winning team from 2011, playwright Dave Florez, and director Hannah Eidinow. 'Hard hitting drama that burns bright' **** (Metro Somewhere Beneath). 'Fresh, funny and achingly beautiful' **** (Scotsman Hand Over Fist).

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