Pros: Witty, relevant and engaging with endearing characters.
Cons: The play moves a little too quickly, with no breathing space between scenes.
Milked is an impressive two-man show featuring the very talented Oliver Mott and Adam Redmore. The play follows two friends, Paul and Snowy, as they grapple with the quickly dawning reality of having to find a direction in life. And then there’s the very unfortunate Sandy, a poorly cow the friends stumble upon after a walk, who suffers every manner of cruelty in the name of kindness. Two men (or rather, boys) failing at job hunting and the euthanasia of a cow: it truly is a set up for an absurd, black piece of theatre.
There’s a wonderful mix of sadness and comedy throughout the play that makes the characters and their situation extremely memorable. Playwright Simon Longman doesn’t hold back but gets straight to the problems that plague too many people’s lives: degrees that don’t lead to jobs, internships that don’t pay and jobs that are too far away, too senior or just too obscure to apply for. The desperation and bitterness it causes for Paul and Snowy is palpable and the performances given by Mott and Redmore show every inch of their frustration and anxiety.
The set is minimalist in the extreme: a simple backdrop of turf. In no way does this detract from the quality of the production though. Props are hidden away in the backdrop, for instance a fridge and a phone that Paul uses with increasing desperation. Any more embellishment in the way of scenery would have overcrowded the scenes, that are already quite packed with their rapid-fire dialogue. The speedy delivery of the dialogue undermines the performance somewhat. The poignant moments aren’t afforded the breathing space they would’ve benefitted from, which makes it difficult to truly engage with the characters. However, the fast and furious approach to the dialogue does benefit the black humour throughout.
Milked deals with some very current issues, chiefly unemployment, but also with the growing trend of abandoning rural lifestyles in favour of urban living, where careers and futures seem to be. It puts forward the trials and anxieties of those feeling left behind by an increasingly urban world with brilliant clarity and grief. Paul’s character in particular personifies the feelings of desperation when the arduous search for a job only returns rejections. Overall this is a play with powerful performances and a strong, memorable script, which, judging by the reactions from the audience, pushes all the right buttons.
Author: Simon Longman
Director: Elizabeth Freestone
Set Designer: Ellan Parry
Producer: Pentabus Rural Theatre Company
Box Office: 020 7478 0100
Booking Link: http://sohotheatre.com/whats-on/milked/
Booking Until: 8 March 2015