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Too Write Productions present

“Slasher” Kincade

 

Written and Directed by Chris Leicester

 

Courtyard Theatre

 

27 April – 23 May, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

A review by James Richards for EXTRA! EXTRA!

Chris Leicester’s latest play takes places in the world of business, cut-backs and down-sizing. Yes, there’s a line of them out there as long as the dole queue, but by asking whether the streamlining managers have got actually got a point, “Slasher” Kincade provides its own unique selling point.

In the nervous minutes backstage before the start of a trade convention, Robert (Chris Carney), whose company will sink or swim on the strength of a speech, hands over the responsibility to Daniel (Gray Hughes), a jittery, stage-struck colleague. The action takes the form of flashbacks and fantasies of the two men, as the moment of the speech draws near.  

 Kevin Brannagan’s Kincade, given the tabloid epithet “Slasher” because of his staff-cutting, expedient management methods, towers over proceedings like a old lion with a greying beard, and hooded eyes. Little men Robert and Daniel are understandably cowed by the power of the man. Who’d mess with a guy who growled things like ‘I’m a realist with a job to do’? Through him, Leicester reaches the nub of the issue, taking up Dostoevsky’s contention that some people view themselves as being born stronger in order to make the tough decisions on behalf of those who can’t or won’t. Are the little men then forced to choose between accepting the yoke of the strong or by going against their natures to mettle themselves, imitating the strong?

Leicester, also director, wisely opts for a simple set and basic staging. The one extravagance is lighting which is borne out by the added texture from the red and blue washes, turning the pair’s action fantasies (a rally car driver and navigator; commando soldiers) into moments to savour. These dramatic titbits give Chris Carney (Robert) and Gray Hughes (Daniel) a welcome chance to show their ranges. Carney’s performance is particularly nuanced, oozing confidence in one scene before painfully recounting his friend’s suicide in the next.

Our brush with compassion, our salvation, at the conclusion, feels like bumping into an ex-girlfriend on public transport – brief and slightly awkward. Perhaps it’s a shame that Kincade, at first enigmatic, beautifully controlled by Brannagh, is eventually monstrous, as we expected him to be. Also, we’re sure that Daniel’s turnaround and eventual act of strength is done for the right reasons, rather than mindlessly passing on the scissors from slasher to slasher, but that reason felt a little thin. Perhaps due to Leicester’s closeness to the work, the narrative clarity has suffered a tad, but not enough to mar what feels like a personal and mature piece of theatre. 

 

 

www.thecourtyard.org.uk

Courtyard Theatre
40 Pitfield Street
London
N1 6EU

Tickets £12-15

 

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