Malcolm Sherman can write, no doubt about that, but Stone Babies feels as if he's determined to make a play about a Big Topic (in this case bereavement – the loss of a child), and his abilities seem to have been pressed into service rather than volunteered for the job. Protagonist Rosslyn's stream-of-impression recollections don't command attention in themselves: you're thinking, "This is poetry," and judging its quality (and wondering cynically, and guiltily, do we really need another memory of child sexual abuse?). Her paranoia about eerie goings-on creates a faint air of Rosemary's Cot-Death. Overall, it's a bit like an artist's lay-figure: human-shaped, but you keep seeing the hinges and joints that let it move.
Written for City Limits magazine.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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