Delicacy – Space Theatre, London – Review by Eamon Somers
Delicacy at the Space Theatre Isle of Dogs, London 7th – 11th May. 19:30. Run time 80 minutes approx, no interval
Jodie and Colin Gibson live with their sixteen-year-old daughter Amber in Bedford, England. An everyday family who happen to live next door to a soon to be jailed serial killer. Their only interaction with the neighbour was a dispute about their garden fence, which he replaced with a brick wall, oh yes, and of course the famous meal he cooked for them in his home, just before he was arrested. A delightful cottage pie they enjoyed so much they were happy to accept a tupperware container of leftovers to go into their freezer.
Shortly after the killer’s conviction, Detective Redway turns up at the Gibson home to share an allegation made by the prisoner concerning certain aspects of the evening they’d spent together. Mrs and Mrs Gibson both deny the allegation while being disgusted at the possibility of it being true. Unbeknownst to them, the detective has let the story slip, and soon tabloid journalists are demanding a story. Of course, they accept the interviewer’s advice that they should put the record straight and tell their side of the story. Soon they are Britain’s most hated family, not helped by social media savvy Amber making regular blog posts, and uploading videos and photos in support of her assertion that they should surrender to the process, accept the judgement of the world, embrace the notoriety, and turn it to their advantage. Needless to say, the play ends happily.
Delicacy is a dark comedy, with hysteria, panic, farce, ignorance and innocence, manipulation and steely ambition right from the start. Speaking of the start, I found the silly repeated (surprise?) entries by Amber before the action began set the wrong tone. The staging in the square performance with a single row of seats on each of the four sides, and props in each corner, made for a very intimate and at times disturbing performance. There was no escaping the intensity. A couple of times I drew my feet back in fear that one of the players would fall over them. Lots of laughs, tinged with discomfort. And an insisting protective sense telling me that none of this could happen in real life, accompanied by the certainty that invented media storms happen every day. Please god not to me. Joe Orton would have recognised the characters.
The Forward Festival runs from the 7th May till 1st June showcasing four debut plays: Delicacy, Mycorrhiza, Sink, and Four O’Clock Flowers. More Details here.