On Wednesday the 28th of May at the Studio in Chapter Arts Centre, Canton, Company of Sirens presented the Welsh premier of Philip Ridley’s Mercury Fur, directed by Chris Durnall.
In 2005 writer Philip Ridley wrote his most controversial play entitled Mercury Fur. The play is set in an apocalyptic London where gangs and drugs control daily life and the youth must do whatever they can in order to survive. We follow brothers Elliot and Darren and their struggle to provide the tools of the fantasies of wealthy paying clients.
Upon entering the space I was instantly intrigued by the way in which set designer, Bethany Seddon, had chosen to deliver the play. The audience were ushered to the rear of the studio with two rows of chairs on opposite sides, facing one another with the performance space between us. It gave a sense of no escape within close proximity to the actors. Given the explicit nature of the play this intimate connection with the performers kept me completely entrapped with the challenging content that was delivered by these incredibly talented actors.
I felt particularly moved by the relationship between Elliot, played by Oliver Morgan-Thomas, and his brother Darren, played by Jacob Prytherch. Elliot is cold; his blunt harsh tongue spits venom at his exasperating younger bumbling sibling, Darren. The relationship is strained but the audience are exposed to the undeniable love and loyalty between the two as the story begins to unravel, ending in the intense finale where Elliot makes the decision that as he has always sworn to care for Darren, he will die by his choice only. Given the extreme nature of the play and its relationships, both actors were exceptional. I can only begin to imagine how complex the personalities of these characters are to master; both actors immersed and delivered themselves with an amazing chemistry that brought us to the edge of our seats.
I also enjoyed that the character of Elliot’s girlfriend, Lola, was played by Edward Bluemel, the audience was impressed by how incredibly professional the actor was, showing fantastic potential for diversity, Edward is a brilliant actor and exhibited typical female mannerisms perfectly, his relationship with Elliot was very affectionate and wonderfully well-rehearsed. The remaining cast of Naz, played by Jared Lawthorn, Spinx, played by Hamish Rush, Duchess, played by Caroline Bunce and Party Guest, played by Samuel Ward were all credible within their roles, all helping to add to the tense storyline that left the audience shell shocked.
Director Chris Durnall has managed to combine a talented cast, an extreme storyline and a confined space in order to bring us a gripping, jaw dropping piece of theatre. The audience was left reeling, stunned and in certain groups, very divided, following the performance. Chris has brought the shock factor to life and pushed the audience boundaries by ensuring the actors engage passionately with the text and audience through the brutal events unfolding before us, with no room for escape. You could almost feel the rising fear and panic around the room as the play reached its climax. Prior to the performance I was not familiar with the play and found myself stunned, my personal levels pushed. I hope that director, cast and crew are all proud of being able to produce a difficult piece of theatre on its Welsh debut.
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