Theatre Critic and Journalist

Review: Mercury Fur, Old Red Lion

Review: Mercury Fur, Old Red Lion

Published in Time Out, 30.03.2012

The British Museum has been looted and torched. London Zoo’s monkeys are shot in their cages. In Brick Lane, a zebra burns and the city’s youth are hooked on hallucinogenic butterflies.

Had Magaret Thatcher abandoned Liverpool after the Toxteth Riots, it might have looked like Philip Ridley’s London. His 2005 play starts after a similar tactical withdrawal by government. The city is run-down and lawless. It’s inhabitants, delinquent and desperate.

In a decrepit council flat, Elliot (Ciarán Owens) and his brother Darren (Frank C. Keogh) are preparing a private party for a wealthy client. It involves a meat-hook and a sedated pre-pubescent dressed as Elvis Presley, and it doesn’t go to plan.

As always, Ridley’s writing is like a firework display. It is agonisingly lyrical: a Molotov cocktail of blood and starlight. Here, he’s also at his most captivating, and his DayGlo dystopia is as thrilling as it is repulsive.

Ned Bennett’s top-quality Fringe revival loses none of the menace or dazzle and boasts superb performances from Owens, Keogh and Olly Alexander as the frazzled naïf Naz. Henry Lewis makes a disturbing cameo as the city-slick Party Guest, wheezing sadistic laughter, and this Mercury Fur makes you bristle all over.

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