RAT PLAY
Old Red Lion, London EC1
Opened 24 March, 1992

Something's gnawing, rodent-like, at the foundations of Parkie and Mary's relationship. And that's it, really. One overdone 100-minute metaphor, as Parkie imagines rats behind the wall of their dilapidated Dublin flat while Mary and Parkie's brother Frank listen to the baby in her womb the tiny miracle of whose birth, natch, banishes the imaginary intramural scufflings. Parkie amuses himself by composing an electronic music symphony (oddly rendered on tape by a predominantly non-synthesized score); he suffers from dreams/visions in which he identifies himself with a blacksmith figure from his childhood who was ultimately destroyed by rats, and in which Frank becomes a sinister Ratcatcher who looks and behaves uncannily like the demonic Bob from Twin Peaks.

Michael Skelly over-writes, Ken McClymont over-directs, and any underlying comment is at best banal and at worst pernicious (a baby as the fortuitous glue to re-bind a sundering couple? Don't try this at home). A phantom pregnancy that carries a strong whiff of "Daddy, what's that play for?"

Written for City Limits magazine.

Copyright Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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