Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Detaining Mr K - Red Card Theatre, 24/7 Festival Manchester

Detaining Mr K
Writer: James Douglas
Director: James Douglas & Wendy Richardson
Reviewer: John Roberts

Everything about this show at the start ticked all the right boxes, the stark white set, the CCTV images of the audience entering the space, the echo sounds of an atmospheric soundscape. The basis of exploring the morals of detaining people for up to 28 days without any hard evidence, this should have been an exciting psychological exploration of a detainee and their detainer, what we ended up with was a script that only had one point to say and a badly mis-cast cast.

Ruth Urquhart plays Pauline McWhirter, an interviewer you are sent to as you’re nearing the final day of your detention, Urquhart’s portrayal isn't the menacing and psychotic portrayal one would hope for, instead you get an impersonation of Catherine Tate’s controversial and very grating character Nan. Equally miscast is Anthony Bentley as Mr K, highly unbelievable in his delivery of a man on the verge of cracking up under the strain of being detained, add on top if the performances the vast amount of line slip ups and it starts to become apparent that this may of not been finished in the rehearsal room.

The problem with the piece as a whole is it only has one real point to say and it feels overly preachy in its delivery, not giving any real plausibility to hearing the opposite side the argument, James Douglas could do with going back to the drafting stages, this isn’t a topic that works with trying to find comedy, instead it falls rather flat and boring, take it back to development workshop it with another director and take it to a more pertinent and serious angle and you may just have a strong play that resonates with the vast majority.
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