In a dystopian London, in which the unseen outside world is ravaged by violence, drugs and fear,
The entire cast is on top form in this performance.
Staging a Philip Ridley play, particularly one with the complexity of Mercury Fur, presents challenges. Though visceral and unrelenting, Ridley is a master of the written word, and the actor must be able to cope with extreme emotional shifts, which may be demanded from one sentence to the next. In this production by Fear No Colours, it is to the cast’s credit that this is done mostly successfully. Glossing over a few minor stutters and starts, the performers seem to warm to Ridley’s rhythms, with a delicate expression of fraternal love between Elliot (Raymond Wilson) and younger sibling Darren (Callum J. R. Partridge) the first of a number of particularly well-worked set pieces.
Though there are instances of high-energy physical action, it is the sporadic moments of stillness, incorporated by director Julia Midtgard, which accentuate the real beauty of this play. Running parallel to the dominant lexis of war and apocalypse is sustained imagery of the natural world (with even the drugs in this world appearing as butterflies) and the tenderness with which Robert Turner’s character, Naz, depicts ‘baby monkey faces’ belying the intrinsic innocence and desire for peace that even those who have been almost irrevocably damaged may possess. Turner does go on, in a similarly slowly-paced episode, to recount a horrific childhood memory – the juxtaposing of which provides instant character development.
The entire cast is on top form in this performance. Wilson’s Elliot is at once commanding and vulnerable, with Partridge’s Darren portrayed sympathetically. Those in support provide friction, tension and depth to Ridley’s increasingly layered narrative, with Ben Hadfield as the euphemistically named ‘Party Guest’ fulfilling pent-up expectations of the sadistic figure that he is built up to be throughout. This production is disconcerting. It is not comfortable. But perhaps the greatest discomfort, beyond that of the language and action, is in the inevitable self-inquisition regarding what we might ourselves do in such an impossibly desperate situation.