THEATRE REVIEW: Glass. Kill. Bluebeard. Imp. starring Toby Jones, Deborah Findlay & Louisa Harland at the Royal Court

WORTH A LOOK?: ****

WHERE? Royal Court RUNTIME: 140 minutes (including 20-minute interval)

WHEN? 4/10, closes 12/10/19

This venue thrives on its reputation as ‘the writers’ theatre’ and the author of these four short plays with single-word titles is 81-year-old Caryl Churchill.

  • Read on for reasons including both appearances from Louisa Harland who plays Orla in Derry Girls

Churchill may have been writing for more than 60 years but there’s no shortage of new ideas here with the opening play Glass taking place on a mantelpiece and consisting of the imagined conversations between ornaments including a hugely self-important clock (a fine Kwabena Ansah, pictured second from left below). Special mention to Patrick McNamee (pictured far right below) who is especially moving imparting an unheard secret.

Louisa Harland (from Channel 4’s smash hit comedy Derry Girls) is unrecognisable as a miniature dog in Glass (far left below) shows her versatility in the final, longer Imp.

Kill is less successful consisting of a God on a cloud reciting a circular history of violence as a young child scribbles ever more furiously on a pad.

Sarah Niles  appears with Jones, Findlay and Sule Rimi in Bluebeard, the story of the friends of a secret serial killer. The most striking image is of Findlay’s character destroying books with scissors where violence against women goes unchallenged.

Elsewhere, the blood-stained dresses of the murdered women are hoisted above the stage as the friends debate the merits of selling replicas.

Lots of ideas then in the first three plays (and the writing is hugely precise and economical throughout) but it is the final Imp where the piece is at its funniest and most interesting.

Jones and Findlay play mismatched cousins who share the accommodation where the action takes place as we meet two visitors including Harland’s over-cautious Niamh. Findlay’s character has terrifying echoes of the role we last saw her play in Bennett’s Allelujah! at the Bridge and here we learn the titular imp is trapped in a bottle and can grant wishes if deployed properly.

We’ve reviewed both Churchill’s Escaped Alone and Pigs and Dogs which were memorable for so many reasons not least their economy.

This four-play pick-and-mix offers much more value for money than either of those predecessors and show its author is still fizzing with ideas that never fail to engage her audience and with plenty of laughs here too.

  • Pictures by Johan Persson via Facebook courtesy Royal Court Tickets
  • Have you seen this show? Let us know what you thought in the comments below
  • Enjoyed this review? Follow its author on Twitter @NeilDurham, email neildurham3@gmail.com and check us out on Instagram and Facebook

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