Lesley Chesters rises above the stereotype in her portrayal of the slag in Jim Cartwright's short play, part of the double bill put on by Two Shoes Theatre Company
Photo: Two Shoes Theatre Company
Two Shoes Theatre Company’s debut production, “Sex, Dregs and Licorice Allsorts”, leaves a lasting impression says reviewer Wendy Winn.
It may be strange advice, but if you are interested in becoming more compassionate and less judgemental, you might want to head to a local bar to hang out with a crack-addict whore, one of her clients, and a man who spends a lot of time sitting on park benches. Consider this a 'get out of jail free' card unqualified recommendation to seek out “Sex, Dregs and Licorice Allsorts”.
Two Shoes Theatre Company promised that its inaugural production of two short plays that would “intrigue, entertain and knock your socks off”. Directors John Brigg and Gav Guilfoyle deliver on that promise. The titles alone do that, especially Jim Cartwright's “I licked a slag's deodorant”. The audience does, indeed, get to see unusual applications of a slag's deodorant.
The title might draw in the curious--or frighten others off, which it shouldn't--but the plays themselves keep the audience glued to their seats. Mike West doesn't even have to take his clothes off to let us inside the skin of the lonely, tragic figure he portrays so skilfully. His pain is almost as tangible as the stick of deodorant he clutches--he is real, pitiable, and understandable. The woman he seeks out to ease that pain is wracked with it herself--it's the blind leading the blind, and they take us with them groping down dark alleys and into dusty cupboards, trying to find a fix, a distraction, relief, meaning. Lesley Chesters paints a very real painted lady in her portrayal of the slag. Even wearing the mandatory tight mini and faux fur you'd expect from a woman in her line of work, she rises above the stereotype and fills those scanty clothes with a flesh and blood woman with a past, a present and a faint flicker of hope for a future.
Leaving the squalor of the man's flat, the slag's room, the strip bars and pub brawls, we're promised a breath of fresh air as we're taken to a park in Alan Bennett's “Playing Sandwiches”. Now that's a promise that might not be kept. Gav Guilfoyle is the unassuming man who quickly takes us into his confidence with his brilliant delivery of an almost stream of conscious monologue. It feels as if he's talking to you and you alone. He's so familiar and mild mannered, so unpretentious, that he captivates the audience completely. It can't have been easy, but Guilfoyle makes it seem as if he's talking off the top of his head--no rehearsed lines, no effort. Perhaps all those solitary hours of park maintenance give a chap time to think things over, letting him do so freely if given an audience.
Both plays are surprising, and no one likes a spoiler, so…enough said. Excellent use of sparse props and minimal settings, effective lighting and well-chosen music aid the cast in bringing these marginalised people to life. Spending time with them is more than a quick high or a cheap thrill--it will give you a lasting impression, and not of the tawdry but of something more profoundly human beneath that layer of grime. Just 15 Euros will score it for you.
Additional performances of “Sex, Dregs and Licorice Allsorts” are scheduled for 21, 24, 25 and 26 April at Café Rocas at 7 p.m. More info on the Two Shoes Theatre Company Facebook page.