Friday, April 28, 2006

The Ash Boy - go see

If you go and see one thing this Bank Holiday weekend, may I recommend The Ash Boy at Theatre 503 in Battersea Park Rd? Set in a grimey flat , where a troubled young man Jack, fizzing with anxiety, lives with his frail, but still sparky mother, Eve. It sounds bleak, but the lyricism of the language and the flashes of salty humour are dazzling. Jack and Eve may lead an isolated half-life, but it's one in which blood-love pulses and the web of shared memories bind the two in a tender, though volatile relationship. Into this world comes down-on-his-luck Benny, whom Jack finds sitting on 'his bench' in the park. Jack is both fearful and eager to have a friend. He shyly invites the charismatic stranger back to his home, where Benny's presence fills the flat, unsettling its fragile occupants. As the tension mounts, the protective mechanisms Jack has constructed to keep Eve and himself safe from the city are threatened. Jack asks Benny to help them both, but Benny's love is that of an avenging angel. The much shorter second half is shockingly tense; the conclusion half-expected but still shattering.

What lifts this play from being a potentially worthy 'mental health issues' drama is the music of the voices, the English, Irish and Scottish accents and the powerful, nuanced performances of the three actors. In the intimate setting of Theatre 503, the effect was at times almost unbearably moving. But the wit of the words and the casts' supple performances made this performance stay with me for days. (Ends Sunday).

Chris Lee’s The Ash Boy runs Friday and Saturday8-10pm; Sunday 5-7pm at Theatre 503 after its sell-out preview 22-25 March.Tickets: £10 and £7 concessions.

**** 4 stars: Powerful and deeply engaging, a performance to savour.


Blogger Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Wish it was here!

April 28, 2006 2:16 pm  

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