The gritty, slick production zooms in on six criminals who are dealing with the aftermath of a botched diamond job, realising that there is a traitor amongst them. Set in a T.A. barracks hangar, we are greeted with a meticulous installation by Max Bittleston; bloody tissues strewn in a bin, a half eaten Royale with cheese, and a bear with glasses are just some of the weird items that begin our journey into the underworld of crime, guns and corruption.
We can hear voices that are shielded by a large army truck, I am intrigued, sneaking a glance underneath it through a crack, to see a different set and the six characters happily chatting away.These random items show Bittleston’s creative flair, incorporating references to every other one of Tarantino’s films (though this is lost on me as I am not an avid Tarantino fan), there are also nods to previous Artyzan productions.
The subtle, but perhaps slightly slow, start introduces the gang who are to work together under the guiding hand of Joe (Liam Brennan). Brennan’s quiet presence drew more attention to his actions than the vocal Blue (Joe Kelly) and Micky Dartford’s Brown, who at points had a questionable American accent.
Director Will Rathbone keeps us on our toes with scenes flicking backwards and forwards in time, which leaves us wondering who has betrayed the gang to the police? Some stand-out performances were brought to the stage by Tom Tokley’s Pink, and Kieran Doble’s White and Ben Langley’s Orange created an understated yet endearing relationship, which Rathbone teased out during the show. Brennan’s wise performance of Joe shouldn’t be overlooked, as he consistently commanded the stage with his acting.
The director’s decision to include the female characters amongst the men worked well, though despite a feisty performance by Rachel O’Brien as Molly there were a few stumbles. A noteworthy scene was between Blonde (Helena Bumpuss), Pink (Tokley) and White’s Doble: the sickeningly sweet and slightly crazy Blonde interrupts a stand-off between the two by opening a hatch to reveal Blue in the boot of a car. The beating up of Blue was a bit hit and miss, with Kelly at points becoming a bit too whingey.
The technology behind the production kept the show’s momentum, with endless sound cues that included gun shots left, right and centre. Sound technician Jared Evans’ crackling and muffled Johnny Cash soundtrack at one point continued the subtle elements which threaded their way throughout it.
Who will live? Who will survive? Rathbone keeps you guessing until the last minute with a climatic final scene. Artyzan’s production of Reservoir Dogs dives into an action-packed story which contains unexpected turns with a few laughs thrown in.
Reservoir Dogs is on at the T.A. army barracks in Canterbury until 9 June, tickets can be reserved here.