“Will they or won’t they go through with it?” That is the consuming question that hovers for an hour over Letter to Boddah, written and directed by Sarah Nelson and performed by Watershed Productions at C Cubed. As always, the only way to find out is to see it for yourself and either be completely taken aback by the ending or be smugly conceited and say, “I saw it coming”. Either way, you will not be disappointed having experience an hour of gritty, chilling drama spiced with a shot of black comedy.
Gritty, chilling drama spiced with a shot of black comedy.
When Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain committed suicide in 1994 he left a letter addressed to his imaginary childhood friend, Boddah. In it he quoted Neil Young’s words, “It’s better to burn out than to fade away”. That sentiment is taken up by Billy (Sam Glen) and Neil (Jordan Reece) as they contemplate blowing up the local Tesco.
They’ve locked themselves in the disabled toilet, where they make last minute preparations and contemplate the enormity of what they are about to do. The desert combat gear lends a militant militaristic image to their endeavours, but the dialogue of doubt and second thoughts that alternates between them, interspersed with total commitment to the task and mutual encouragement, belies that fact that they are amateurs at this. Billy has his reasons for carrying out the attack but Neil, somewhat reluctantly, has been dragged along just because they are best mates.
The lads might be familiar to followers of soaps. Reece was in the cast of Emmerdale and Glen played Jay in Coronation Street. In addition they each have credits at several established theatres. Their talents shine in this production. Glen enters a quivering wreck with movements that indicate the fine attention to detail that persists throughout his performance. He’s the mastermind behind the plot, but as the appointed hour nears he increasingly has to pump himself up to stay committed and focused. He also has to deal with the questioning of Neil. In a comedy act Reece would be the foil, whose cogs turn rather more slowly than those of his partner. His dim-wittedness, tangential thinking and slower pace contrasts perfectly with the bright tempo of Glen and between them they provide some hilarious moments. Yet they each have reflective moments among the rising tension which they use to bring a sense of deep humanity to their characters.
Letter to Boddah is gripping, dark and funny; a powerful blend that this company knows how to put together. Cobain once said, "The worst crime is faking it". There’s no hint of that in Reece and Glen who are genuine and authentic.