Long Live the Little Knife
Circle Studio, Citizens Theatre Glasgow
When you are eventually allowed in [5 minutes before curtains up], to what seems the most Spartan of venues, the reason you have been kept waiting soon becomes apparent. The two actors, Wendy Seager and Neil McCormack, despite explanation to the contrary, are already in character. They meet and seat the audience whilst setting the backdrop for what’s about to unfold in this piece of ‘verbatim theatre’. A sense of intimacy with the small, but sell-out audience has already been established in preparation for a piece of in your face, black comedic storytelling.
The story is about a married couple [Jim and Liz], a pair of sharpies specialising in the trade of snide designer handbags, and their chance encounter, whilst on the lash, with the writer in a Glasgow pub. Having fallen foul of the East End Mafioso in a turf war, they find themselves being extorted to the tune of £250,000 and being forced to hatch a get-rich-quick scheme to avoid enforced removal of their mortal coils. They go to visit ‘The Wee Man’ for guidance and so their quest in becoming the world’s most notorious art forgers begins.
As the story unfolds, often at breakneck speed, the underbelly of a world of forgery, hard nosed art dealers, child prostitution, sex trafficking, armed robbery and arson is exposed. Although having seemingly more faces than Lon Chaney and clearly intent on breaking more than one felony in the pursuit of their mission, both characters, in true ‘Breaking Bad’ style, come across as the baddies with a moral compass. In comparison to the other villains in the narrative, which includes a Russian Oligarch with an unhealthy interest in farmyard gonadectomy, you could be forgiven in thinking of them as heroes.
If you go to see this play, as is Leddy’s penchant, be prepared to be exposed to a bucket full of conflicting emotions. I found myself laughing out loud on more than one occasion and being simultaneously conscious of the smile sliding off my face. Huge praise must go to the actors in this thoroughly entertaining production for making the characters seem so real/fake with numerous, seamless, protean transformations which were delivered with an amazing energy. Little wonder that they looked completely drained when I saw them in the lift after the show.
In the ‘final chapter’ the machine-gun’ like manipulation of the most profound of feelings made me come came away from this boxing ring like arena, somewhat appropriately, punch drunk and feeling largely different from what I did before I went in. A must see, five star production. FIVE STARS
Reviewer : Fitzroy