Slaughterhouse theatre: Meat


Meat is now playing at Theatre 503 in Battersea. It is part melodrama, part comedy and part lesson in slaughterhouse technique set in the industrial heartland of the north of England.

The story focusses on Vincent, a man who works in a meat processing factory. He has a run in with the local youth yoof and then things get a little messy. Soon as events spiral out of control it becomes a bit difficult to explain to his wife and daughter just what he has been doing working all that overtime. The abbatoir becomes a metaphor for a lot of the things that are going wrong in his town and in his life.

The performances by cast of four are vigorous and intense. Vincent, as played by Graham Turner is a shifty character and he keeps you wondering if the years of experience cutting the carotid artery of animals on an assembly line has given him other ideas about dealing with wild youth on an industrial scale. His wife Tracy Brabin (of the Sainsbury adverts fame) is locked in a power struggle of domesticated proportions and the interplay between them is the focus of the drama. While Ian Weichardt looks way too nice to be a knife-weilding-mugger youth, the choreography between him and Turner in the climatic scene will have audiences on the edge of their seats. It's not gross out violence in the Grand Guignol style, but it still will go some way to explain why the gastro pub downstairs has run out of ketchup.

Part of the enjoyment of this piece is how the story eventually unfolds. Lines that at first could be assumed to be idle banter soon become apparent to be yielding much more. But for a play that gives detailed descriptions about the correct way to cut an animal, it is a shame that a few choice cuts weren't provided to the source material. Particularly in some of the more obvious parts of the story at the begining.



Still, the piece can be appreciated for what it is and playwright Jimmy Osborne is someone to watch. The production is also very imaginatively staged and lit and scenes move back and forth between abbatoir and home. Depicting the work at the abbatoir using pillows and red foam falling to the floor is particularly evocative. And it has some fabulous art work (opposite) of pigs heads and other meaty bits for its poster which puts you in the right frame of mind even before entering the theatre. Worth a look and be sure to eat downstairs at The Latchmere pub as well as they serve a pretty good burger...

Meat runs at Theatre503 in Battersea until 30 June, Tuesday to Sunday. Tickets are £14 with concessions available. Sundays are also pay what you can.

listen to ‘Ab-boo-toir: Meat’ on Audioboo

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