Stay With Me Till Dawn

Wednesday, 27th January 2010 07:25pm

Stay With Me ‘Til Dawn and Knuckleball

Stay With Me ‘Til Dawn by Graham Farrow & Knuckleball by William Whitehurst

Second Skin Theatre
Rosemary Branch Theatre

Review by Howard Loxton (2010)

These two plays, linked by themes that explore attitudes to sexuality, violence and secret lives, pack a substantial punch. Drawing room comedy they are not and, in the close proximity of this always interesting tiny theatre, director Andy McQuade and his splendid casts make them almost too real. Come the interval, you’ll probably need that drink and be glad to get downstairs to the warm and welcoming pub, but if you like real theatre and not just saccharine entertainment this is a double bill that gives full value

In Stay With Me ‘Til Dawn a young lad who’s not too bright seeks refuge from a stepfather who beats him and a drunkard mother in the house of a man who he’s seen in the park feeding ducks and heard people say ‘likes boys.’ I read Matthew Haigh’s performance of Nick as being a child, much younger than the actor, pre-adolescent, but he could be in his teens, retarded and still sexually innocent. Radford, the householder comes home with a bloody nose. He’s been set upon by men who think him a paedophile and to make things worse two local boys have gone missing. Finding Nick there is a shock, it could put him in real danger, but he handles the boy gently, coaxing him to leave but while the child is still in the house his knife-wielding stepfather breaks in.

The violent confrontation between Peter Glover’s seemingly gentle Radford and the sinewy Lewis of David Swain has our sympathy shifting surprisingly back and forth between them. Is Radford a man mourning a wife and children run down by a rogue motorist? Is Lewis a repressed homosexual? Which man is the monster?

The situation escalates in horror adding extra layers of meaning and concludes with an ambiguous image that suggests a continuing cycle of violence and serial killing. Gruelling but gripping.

Until 7th February 2010

Howard Loxton for British Theate Guide on Wednesday 27 January 2010

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