Julie Balloo, responsible for recent fringe hit Thirtysomehow, has now created a feminist cousin to How To Get Ahead In Advertising. Stricken by mid-life crisis, Moira discovers the downside of having a hobby that really speaks to you – in this case, a clay head she has sculpted starts demonically pressing her to top her tedious husband and his alleged mistress with a poisonous Marks & Spencer microwave dinner. A flashback biography establishes her potential for later disintegration – anyone who would marry a beflared Sixties protest singer must have a deep-seated self-destructive urge.
The inequalities of Moira's childhood friendships and the muted tyranny of her mother are recounted with acerbic self-deprecation, and the stream of vitriol which finally emerges from the talking head is both ferocious and comically acute. The portrayal of marital breakdown does, however, begin to become leaden and uncomfortable, while the two registers grow confused in a bewildering rush towards an inconclusive end. Yet enough flair is on show to indicate that if Balloo were to expand Clay to full theatrical length she could create an admirable blend of elements which are at present uncertainly grafted.
Written for The Independent.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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