Due to a licensing issue at the Cock Theatre, the brilliant A Butcher of Distinction has relocated to the Kings Head Theatre in Islington. In addition to the below review it is worth noting that the production has fantastically adapted to the new space, the actors seemed like they had been operating the stage for months rather than days, and the beautifully complex, layered and twisted comedy seems to have found an ideal home in the low roofed, basement like auditorium. The play is wonderful, walking the line expertly between intrigue and surprise, and The Good Review would like to offer our congratulations to the production for their recent recognition by the Off Westend awards and to applaud the judges taste.
The Cock Theatre
A Butcher of Distinction tells the tale of two brothers, Hartley and Hugo who’s father has very recently killed both their mother and himself. The play sees the two naïve, infantalised and vulnerable young men come to clear out their Father’s basement flat in London (a city to which they have never been and which the youngest thought was an island). As they sort through their late father’s belongings, they come into contact with an associate of his who exposes them to the sordid underworld their old man inhabited.
The three actors do an excellent job. Ciaran Owens and Sam Swann have a convincingly taut, primal chemistry as the two lost boys. Both are adorably equipped with plummy accents and a disarming innocence that really helps bring out the comedy of the piece. Owens is superbly adept at balancing Harltely’s need for control and authority with his fear and lack of understanding of the world. Swann meanwhile is equally compelling and marries his characters obedience and deference with a sweet charm that makes him incredibly watchable. Michael Gould, is brilliantly slimy as the boys carer/captor, giving a suitably terrifying performance.
Director Ned Bennett and designer Fiona Russell have created a oppressive and uncomfortable world that perfectly suits the cramped and dingy atmosphere of the Cock Tavern Theatre.
Despite the grim subject matter, the nature of the piece is surprisingly lighthearted. There is a sort of matey familiarity in the writing. It is a young voice that tells the story and this takes the edge off the violence and helps give the play a quirky and endearing quality. Because of this, despite the darkness, everyone in the audience seems to have a pretty good laugh as well as leaving a bit freaked. Which is no easy feat. A wonderfully twisted, brilliantly executed comedy from a dark, dark mind.
A Butcher of Distinction by Rob Hayes is performed on:
April 13, 17, 18, 23 at 7.30pm
Thurs 14 April at 10.00pm
Sun 24 April at 3.00pm