Sugar Baby by Alan Harris

Dirty Protest’s Sugar Baby was an entertaining hour of theatre at Paines Plough’s Roundabout, Summerhall. The hero – or rather, anti-hero – was the drug dealing Marc (with a c, that point was made very clear). 

Alex Griffin-Griffiths makes Sugar Baby at Summerhall well worth a watch.

Alex Griffin-Griffiths was charming, charismatic, energetic and engaging all at once in this one-man show, keeping the audience on his side throughout with his witty, confident interactions. It is a credit to Griffin-Griffiths that I was so invested in Marc and his story, as the script felt, at times, a little unfinished. It would perhaps fare better if its reasonably short running time (55 minutes) were extended, allowing the plot to become a bit more cohesive and complete. That said, any play that can give voice to a cheeky Welsh drug-dealer and the statue of Billy the seal in one breath needs be somewhat admired. Yep, you read that right: Billy starts to speak. Physical humour was used effectively in conveying character changes, particularly Marc’s love interest Lisa and said seal statue. And commendation must be extended to the text for the bizarre but humorous plot points like Billy, and Oggy the local loan shark’s double-flaked ice cream.

On the flip side, the short running time (combined with Griffin-Griffiths stellar delivery of Marc’s story) meant that pace was slick, and tonal changes executed deftly. These were aided by a lighting design that made great use of Roundabout’s fantastic rig; at one moment of Matrix simulation, the shifts between blue, green and red washes produced a fantastic glitching, glimmering effect. Catherine Paskell had clearly thought through her direction, making good use of Roundabout being, you guessed it, in-the-round – a stage that might present difficulties for a less adept production team and performer, but only made Sugar Baby more dynamic and engaged with its audience.

A slightly strange plot then, but, overall, a fantastic production and personification of Marc from Alex Griffin-Griffiths makes Sugar Baby at Summerhall well worth a watch.

Reviews by Alice Carlill

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★★★★
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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Being a small-time drug dealer in Cardiff and living up to your family’s expectations is tough. Marc avoids his mum, disguises his cannabis plants with fake tomatoes at the allotment, and now has to bail his old man out of £6,000 owed to local loan shark Oggy. When he meets Lisa for the first time in years, things get even messier. Oggy wants Lisa. Lisa wants Marc. Marc wants to survive the day. A one-man comedy from critically acclaimed writer Alan Harris (Paines Plough, National Theatre Wales) and award-winning Welsh company Dirty Protest. ***** (Scotsman).

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