Monday, July 25, 2011

You might think a double dose of murderous madness in Broadmoor would be enough for one month, but - like several others after Venus and The Demon Box played in Frome - I couldn't resist a trip to Bristol to see the final two Lullabies of Broadmoor in the Stepping Out Theatre quartet.
The Murder Club and Wilderness again feature John Coleman as Principal Attendant at the hospital, still fighting his own demons and trying to find a way to heal his tragic charges. Immensely powerful emotionally, both plays deal with childhood abuse and the effect of unacknowledged trauma: in Murder Club it's the murdered prostitute narrator (brilliantly played by Violet Ryder) who deserves our sympathy while her psychotic killer remorselessly manipulates all around him; in Wilderness it's the murderer himself, self-destructively penitent, who carries that terrible legacy through the American Civil War across the world until on a foggy night in London it catches up with him. Key roles in these dramas were strongly played by Chris Bianchi and Chris Courtney, while Chris Donnelly's Coleman holds every play together with warmth and sensitivity. Set, costumes, and lighting all work really well and direction by Chris Loveless is excellent, bringing out the gothic elements with menace but not melodrama. But undoubtedly the most memorable aspect of all four plays is the scripts, crafted with insight, anger, sadness, and compassion by Steve Hennessy. It's hard to explain how such dark material can be both funny and moving as well as shocking and disturbing - best you go see for yourself: the Lullabies quartet is heading for London's Finborough in September after a month at C Venue in Edinburgh, so lots chances before the end of September!

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