Have you ever wondered what happens after the lie-detector results are revealed on the Jeremy Kyle show and the participants are left to their own devices? In this nasty new play by Richard Vincent, you’ll wish you hadn’t.
Norton is 21 today. Un-hinged and un-loved, he’s a deeply troubled young man who deals solely in expletives and unprovoked violence. So much so that after finding out his abusive Dad is not his biological father, he knocks out his mother and sends his brother into a terminal coma. Now he’s on the run, hunting his real father, because Norton needs to talk. Norton needs the truth before he ends up killing someone … again.
The play has the symmetry of a sort of modern Greek tragedy, with the sins of Norton’s father repeating themselves. But Vincent’s writing is often cringe-worthy and it is unclear exactly what he is trying to say about the unfortunate lives of his unlikeable characters.
Under the mentorship of the late Sarah Kane, Vincent enjoyed a degree of success in the nineties. He was a member of the Paines Plough writers’ group and had his work produced at the Courtyard theatre in Hoxton and the Warehouse theatre in Croydon. Produced by The Albion Company who already boast an impressive list of supporters, Red Tap/Blue Tiger marks Vincent’s return to the theatre after successfully developing his career in film, television and radio. With so much experience, expectations were high, but this jet black comedy feels more like a mediocre university production than the work of an established playwright. For an established dramatist, Vincent’s dialogue is wholly unconvincing and his play lands uncomfortably somewhere between drama and comedy as a result.
Vincent is guilty of poverty porn of the worst kind as his play moves towards its inevitably violent conclusion. Here, Red Tap / Blue Tiger loses its way completely as Norton’s increasingly violent outbursts make him impossible to like and even harder to understand.
Elliot Brown directs with unrelenting pace, making this a fast-moving and lively production. Rhys McDowall’s design opts for the abstract, using colourless jagged edges to indicate a broken home. Neither, though, can overcome the problems with the script.
Red Tap / Blue Tiger is at Assembly Roxy (Venue 139) until 25 August. For more information and tickets visit the EdFringe website.