Thursday, 3 March 2011

The Devil Has Quentin’s Heart – Contact Theatre, Manchester

Writer: Ray Shell, Benji Reid, Peader Kirk,
Director: Peader Kirk
Reviewer: Ruth Lovett

Heavily influenced  by Ray Shell’s ‘Iced’,  The Devil Has Quentin’s Heart is the tragic pathos filled story of Quentin; originally from Moss Side, Quentin’s father moves to New York with his son for a better a life; a chance to chase the American dream and become a success.  Constant pressure to make something of himself and a strained relationship with is father makes for an easily lead and self doubting Quentin.

After an encounter with a beautiful crack addict, Quentin gives his heart to the Devil who promises to give him the start in life he dreams of, the opportunity to be a success.  Reaching dizzying heights on Wall Street Quentin certainly makes plenty of money but cannot resist the temptation of alcohol and loses everything to end up a homeless drunk who cannot accept that it is he who did not maximise the opportunities he was given.  Instead he blames everyone else and becomes a lost tortured soul. 

Benji Reid is a captivating performer.  He holds the audience in the palm of his hands and creates the various characters with a finesse and ease rarely seen in solo performers.  He transitions between the Devil and Quentin when the deal is being made is particularly chilling and effective with only some dry ice and fantastic lighting (Paul Colley) to assist him.  Reid is an accomplished performer who fills the stage with his presence and the auditorium with his clear voice.  A creator of physical and hip hop theatre Reid moves his body in the manner of a proficient dancer and uses some dance moves to convey moods better than any words could suffice in certain scenes and this production certainly allows him to utilise some of his skills expertly. 

At times some scenes do drag a little and it is obvious the direction the play is moving in therefore they need not be so unnecessarily long.  Also, although the audio created by Wong although skilful and works well as an enhancement to the writing- it is at times too loud and Reid is fighting to make himself heard over it and from my positioning the third row this was a little disappointing however can be easily remedied. 

Overall this is a brilliantly performed piece of modern theatre that tells a familiar story well.  Reminiscent of the film the Devil’s Advocate it touches on themes of loss, despair, selling your soul and heart to the Devil and the fallibility of man in a relevant way.  Easily identifiable themes and a well executed performance and quality production make this an enjoyable experience and a credit to Breaking Cycles Production Company.  

Reviewed on the 2nd March
frontpage hit counter