The Knee Jerk of Sloth

Set in a derelict glue factory, this play portrays the lives of four homeless people as they live in squalor. It is difficult to deduce this premise from the show, however, because the script doesn’t successfully situate the characters in context and we barely learn anything about their histories. There are frequent attempts at absurdist physical humour, but when the actors run about, switching on and off the lamps in the four corners of the stage, much of the action and dialogue seems like non-sequiturs, unrelated to the rest of the show. Indeed, it remains unclear what the play is trying to achieve. For a play that centers around homelessness, it is apolitical, but we don’t gain much insight into the characters as individuals either.

The one shining aspect of the show is the performance of Louise Skaaning as the mute Queenie, who stands in the sidelines of the action for the most part, amusing herself by interpreting the action onstage with brilliantly comical mimes

An example of the general incoherence of the play is a scene in which Blake becomes enraged and inexplicably punches Queenie in the face, dumps a bucket of his urine over her and drags down her underpants. Why is this scene in the play? One might argue that it shows the kind of violence a person in such living conditions might be driven to, or how a character like Queenie can be left unprotected in her position. But neither possibilities are taken up for further exploration and the play moves forward, casually leaving this scene of violence behind.

The one shining aspect of the show is the performance of Louise Skaaning as the mute Queenie, who stands in the sidelines of the action for the most part, amusing herself by interpreting the action onstage with brilliantly comical mimes. But the play otherwise leaves one in a state of incomprehension and I could never bridge the distance I felt to the individual characters.

It is acted decently, but the script’s attempts at poetry, its supposed mission to represent the forgotten lives of factory workers and the Mad Hatter-esque clowning don’t fit together in this confused play.

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The Blurb

The Knee Jerk Of Sloth, a new play written by Pelagie-May Green, is a tragi-comedy brimming with lyrical music and the poetry of the gutter. After a tragic death years ago, four homeless and hopeless people are left picking up the pieces in an old glue factory. As the events of the past gradually come to light, Blake, Shane, Pete and Queenie slowly lose their drunken minds with devastating results.

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