Pleasance Courtyard (The Attic)
In the intimate auditorium tucked inside the Pleasance Courtyard, Fritz and Matlock‘s starts rather abruptly. Two young men are staring inside a large chest freezer from which emanates a bright purple glow. Carl Fritz (Salvatore D’Aquilla) looks dishevelled, while Barry Matlock (James Wallwork) is still panting. Fritz is wearing a white shirt and three-piece suit. His hands, face and clothes are covered in blood. Matlock is visibly enraged – we can tell straight away that he’s done something wrong, then turned to his friend for help. It’s the day before Carl’s wedding and he was trying on his outfit for the big day when he received Barry’s urgent plea.
Together they grow marijuana in Carl’s grandmother’s attic, but they’re now in her basement trying to conceal the body of a mate who was caught snooping around. After discovering that they’ve accidentally locked themselves in, they smoke some weed to pass the time, and the lines between past and present become blurred. Traumatic childhood flashbacks of abusive parents and social workers force their way into the room, announced by sudden sound effects or dramatic changes in lighting. It’s easy to feel like we’re in the room with them – nursing Fritz’s panic attacks or mitigating Barry’s violent outbursts. The atmosphere is tense, but what makes it all the more unsettling is the realisation of a lifelong friendship being corroded by distrust.
The acting is spotless, the lighting and sound have a charismatic role within the action and the setting is carefully manicured. Artfully crafted exchanges allow the tension to build, higher and higher, up until the final minutes, when the drama reaches a breaking point. What comes next is the unpredictable resolution of the temporary crisis, which has now transitioned into a new state of affairs. Plays like Fritz and Matlock belong in the fringe playwrighting manual.
Written by: James Wallwork and Salvatore D’Aquilla
Directed by: Jess Millward
Produced by: Part of the Main in association with The Pleasance
Fritz and Matlock plays at The Pleasance Courtyard at 2.05pm daily until 29 August. Further information and bookings can be found here.