'the script has touches of brilliance ...'
This is London Pub Theatres first trip to The Glory. First impressions are of a friendly welcoming pub where people flock for a relaxing evening with their mates or partners. Going solo, doesn’t seem to be a problem either. There is a small cabaret stage in the spangley pub. The theatre downstairs is a marked contrast to the razzmatazz of the staging upstairs. Much is made of this at the beginning of the show.
We are not downstairs, we are in a dungeon. A dungeon covered with plastic sheeting, surely signalling that a murder is about to happen. The cast are just named ‘A’ and ‘B’. ‘B’ is paying for the pleasure of being murdered by ‘A’ in a business transaction. Here the script (written by actor Alexis Gregory) has touches of brilliance. When ‘A’ is playing the business man he has more ways to punish his victim than with blows. He is the ‘jobsworth’ who also doles out feedback forms to fill in and takes breaks at the most inappropriate moments. At this stage there is no physical contact, every blow is a stamp to which the victim responds verbally and physically.
The final torture is a hug. The victim doesn’t believe he deserves love and is now being taught to ‘feel’ - the worst pleasuring agony of all. The fact that this is not going to end in murder becomes an additional taunt to the victim, but now begins the reversal … no spoilers here.
Jonny Woo as ‘A’ is wonderfully cutting and unemotional as the inflated manager hung up on his own power. His change of character is swift and touching. By contrast to the character of ‘A’, Alexis Gregory is completely uninhibited. His contortions, moans and screams of masochistic pleasure or annoyance, along with his mood changes are all portrayed with every fibre of his being. His reactions to ‘A’s provocations often result in bringing laugh out loud humour.
Whilst the actors are engaging and the show darkly comic, the play doesn’t deliver as a conventional thriller. If you get your thrills from overt sexiness, no shortage of that (in Gregory’s performance) but if you are looking for a more of a sense of suspense, you might be disappointed. That edge of seat feeling as the play builds to a climax is missing. Instead the play has resemblance to Genet's The Maids, where role play and real life are blurred.
The complexity of the play holds the attention, and it sits well in this popular Queer and alternative nightspot which has its own unique take on performance.
Photography by Jane Hobson
SEX/CRIME by Alexis Gregory
The Glory, LDN E2, 9 – 28 April
Reviewer Heather Jeffery is founder and editor of London Pub Theatres magazine www.londonpubtheatre.com (email firstname.lastname@example.org)