The actor James Webb fears something is amiss on the set of his next film, a torture-porn horror flick called Porkies. He is of course right to be suspicious. An inhospitable shooting location, sketchy details about the crew’s arrival and a director with something to hide all suggest that the lines between fiction and reality are about to be blurred.
The script is something of a mixed bag. It is clearly a very good story that contains an ingenious explanation of itself at the end when the play comes full circle. However, it often seems unnecessarily slow-moving, especially for a self-aware comedy with violent undertones. Each scene drags on, overstaying its welcome and the problem unfortunately lies with the dialogue which frequently felt quite bland and lethargic. It had the potential to go into many wonderful and weird directions but rarely did the characters have anything particularly interesting to say.
Despite this the acting was often very good. Emil Franchi is effective as the likeable James Webb. His paranoia-driven suspicion, nervous energy but also good humour were a joy to watch. Rachel Slattery’s Grace was also wonderful, executing her swift changes from drama to comedy and back again with natural poise. Even when her mouth was gagged with an indecorous apple she was still managed to be expressive; the simple movement of her terrified eyes spoke more of fear than an entire monologue could.
However, Dan Bradshaw as Bobby the director comes across as too reasonable, too restrained. There needed to be more of a sense of rising menace bubbling beneath his demeanour. He was too consistently amiable, like a smiling dog walker on a sunny Sunday morning. This was a shame because there was particular opportunity for malice in an intriguing shaving scene, where Bradshaw takes a cut throat razor to Franchi’s bare chest. But it simply wasn’t creepy enough.
If only Splatter had more energy, then this good play could have become a great one. As it is what we have is a clever script and some solid performances. Nothing sensational, but certainly admirable.