Swordy Well Family Meatworks is in crisis – as the last independent slaughter house in Britain it is facing a huge drop in sales, a mutiny from within the ranks, and assimilation by the corporate abattoirs.
Proprietor and family man John Orty is doing everything he can to keep the place together, but the inevitable end of his business isn’t his only problem. For one thing his entire staff are obsessed with making constant and bizarre cultural references and puns that aren’t particularly funny and seem to have very little to do with the conversation at hand.
Apart from the constant cultural referencing, the dialogue in UMDS’s Swordy Well isn’t all that bad - the characters, although two dimensional and emotionally obtuse, speak with a naturalism that keeps the surreal story in a relatable and tangible realm. However, the frequency of the celebrity panning jokes shatters the narrative arc as the writer, and some of the cast, are more concerned with getting laughs than serving the plot. This disjoints the dramatic thrust and leaves what is an interesting idea and setting struggling to keep itself up.
The young cast, however, attack the piece with verve and their performances display some real talent. Their comic timing is of a standard beyond their age and they perform the physical theatre vignettes that crop out throughout the piece with confidence and conviction - even if lacking somewhat in precision.
With some serious culling and consideration about the characters from the writer this short piece could be a funny and disturbing black comedy. The seeds of such a show can certainly be seen in there – they just need cultivating.