Pros: Some wonderful, authentic performances, particularly by Pete Picton. A well-written, layered script.
Cons: Some of the dialogue seemed forced and somewhat unlikely.
KinkyFish is a London-based production company which attracted rave reviews for its production of Consequences at the Edinburgh Fringe last year. I was excited to find out how the show would fare when transposed to the Hen and Chickens Theatre as part of London’s very own Camden Fringe.
Consequences deals with two police detectives, the young and inexperienced Danny (Jon Carstairs) and the veteran sergeant Alan (Paul Condon). While investigating the demise of retired librarian Norman in his home (presumably of old age), Danny discovers a suicide note. In the letter, the old man confesses to the murder of a young prostitute, Cilla, 20 years earlier, trying to explain how and why it happened. The script by Duncan Battman, is well-written and provides plenty of recurring motifs and insights, giving it real sense of depth. It handles the difficult themes tastefully and succeeds in changing your original judgement of the old man by gradually revealing new information.
The play is based in three periods in time: the present day (when the two cops must decide what to do with this letter), Norman’s final hours (as he writes the letter) and 20 years earlier (as Norman chronicles meeting Cilla and the events leading up to her death). The action in the three time periods all happens in the same place, Norman’s kitchen. Director Jaymes Aaron seamlessly links these three periods, with actors often staying on stage when we flash forwards and backwards, like ghosts from the past or future.
Clotilde Lataille’s set design, representing Norman’s kitchen, is simple yet effective. Just a table and chairs, a counter for tea and mugs, a few shelves and a painted backdrop illustrating a bookcase. It does the job of providing a convincing space for the action, without getting in the way. Another nice touch is the audio at the start and finish of the play; old recordings of Aesop’s fables which also feature heavily in the script.
At the end of the day, this play is carried by the performance of Pete Picton as Norman, as he calmly explains how he came to meet and eventually kill Cilla. His rendition of the retired mild-mannered librarian is measured, subtle and utterly convincing. In his calm and steady voice, he slowly draws the audience into Norman’s mindset, convincing them that the murder of Cilla was really an act of compassion, maybe even love. One particularly impressive aspect of his performance is the distinction between the 20-years-ago Norman and suicide-note-writing Norman. The latter recently suffered a mild stroke and the slight changes in demeanour, posture and diction reveal Picton’s skill as an actor. Michelle McKay also gives a wonderful performance as Cilla; convincing in her fight to improve her life, yet endearing in her ability to make light of her situation. Condon and Carstairs’ performances are also noteworthy, although at times their dialogue do seem a bit forced.
All in all, Consequences is a very enjoyable show with just the right mix of intrigue, humour and pathos. It covers a lot of ground, gives an abundance of insight and delivers great performances. It is also neatly packed into a succinct, one-hour show. The piece covers some tough subject matters without being too emotionally draining or jarring. I can see why it did so well in Edinburgh last year and I predict it will fare well down in London this year too.
Written by: Duncan Battman
Directed by: Jaymes Aaron and Michelle McKay
Designed by: Clotilde Lataille
Produced By: KinkyFish productions
Box Office: 020 7704 2001
Booking Link: http://www.camdenfringe.com/detailact.php?acts_id=526
Booking Until: 9 August 2014