Monday, 2 November 2015

Incarcerator - Torben Betts. Old Red Lion Theatre, 2005

I wasn't sure what to expect from this play, it opens with a prison officer delivering a monologue about the perplexities that may befall the inmates mind.

The play then moves to the first scene where we see a man getting ready to be married. The tone of the play has changed as it is written in rhyming couplets which makes it fast paced, quick, slick, witty. As we go through  the play, we find that it is largely written in these rhyming couplets, and Betts' ability to play with language shines through.

The play is akin to Jacobean drama, gone is the romantic love of a Shakespeare play, and instead the rhyming verses are concentrating on the moral corruption of a modern society. It is a modern day darkly domestic tragedy which exposes the complications of wealth, debt and greed; love, sex and adultery. It is often pessimistic in its tone and attitude towards people. The play focuses on six characters, each person given both a name, and a description.

The Incarcerator [CHORUS] is a character of many faces. He is the figure of authority, the law enforcer. He tries to keep society together, but society does not conform.

The Independent Man [Stu Morris] an alcoholic loving the corporate high life. Fond of women, drinking and drugs and happy to flash his cash. He taunts Lee that marriage will suck the life out of him whilst continuing to lend him money so that he can pay for the demands Vic makes of him.

The Lusty Youth [Lee Jessop] can not control his desires, he just wants to be able to please his new wife, but she doesn't come cheap. Lee can not say no. He is impulsive, he doesn't think things through, to hell with consequences, what are they? He is a man getting out of his depth in debt, how can he keep the wolves from the door and the sharks at bay?

The Innocent [Liddle] (Tom Burke) a man with a world of opportunity ahead of him, but will he take the path of righteousness, or go back the way he came? He is like an excitable child full of wonder and innocence, but is anxious about what lies ahead of him, and therefore an easy character to mould or manipulate.

The Egotist [Vic Smith] materialistic, has very expensive tastes and won't take no for an answer. She is demanding and determined to get what she wants.

The Frustrated Intellectual [Laura Fisher] is in love with Lee, but he is marrying her friend Vic. She has a sharp tongue and a quick wit, but can she use it to make her dream a reality, or will she forever be jealously looking on?

I would imagine it is a both a difficult yet enjoyable script for an actor to perform. There is a juxtaposition of deep venom and thoughtful eloquence which gives the characters a depth and personality. There is increasing chaos and a mad violence which is almost comical, and it ends with me thinking I will never look at a fondue in the same manner again!

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