In amongst his habitual ravings LAURIE COLDWELL conceals a review of new writing which bites but can’t be bitten.

Ami Jones Caitlin Doherty Connie Scozzaro Corpus Playroom emma roberts Helvetica laurie coldwell MORE new writing toby parker rees

Corpus Playroom, 10th-14th May, 9.30pm, £5-6

Directed by Caitlín Doherty


“Where’s me meat?” I bellowed, the noise knocking me grandma from her stool and breaking both her legs. For the sandwich before me was indeed well garnished (we never usually had pickled cabbage on a Wednesday) and the bread even looked improbably French. Certainly, it looked beautiful.

My mum had been building it up all week, singing the sandwich song (“doobie-doo, it’s a sandwich” to the tune of Rimsky-Korsakov’s ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’). Yet, there was nothing there beneath the bread top-piece. Sure, there was lettuce and pickles and the bread was better to touch than women breasts, but you need a little beef. Or tongue, why not tongue, even? Nice bitta tongue fo’likkle Laurie. Needless to say, I was hurt and disappointed.

Now, that’s – actually – an allegory about the play. Hey little compsci, don’t worry your little HTML mind, that means it was a story with a figurative meaning. Yeah. I know, mega, eh? It’s clever. Tell your friends, they’ll think you’re cool and that. tOtEs hIP StReEt CrEd.

It is, of course, nonsense; I’m a devout vegetarian, I wouldn’t even joke about wanting meat and I broke grandma’s legs last week accidently stepping all over her, anyway. The point still stands, though. Where was the meat?

Connie Scozzaro’s piece of writing is encouraging. A graduate of the Royal Court’s 2008 ‘Young Writers Programme’ there’s some nice middle-class satire and a fair ear for dialogue. Where she falters is in her concept and in too often trying to push the drama on by bookending her numerous lolz with an improbably serious and self-consciously dramatic line.

MORE centres on the visit of academics Christopher Querl (Toby Parker-Rees) and Kathleen Curlington (Ami Jones) to old friend Eleanor Sans (Emma Roberts), who invented a Helvetica-esque typeface for Aubergine Computers. They haven’t seen each other since they were at College together and there’s an announcement and raking up of the past and something hidden and etc., etc., etc.

There would be slightly more surprise and interest if I said “I’m going to punch you” and then punched you.

Photographs by Siana Bangura

Consequently, you’ve guessed the publicity-promised denouement because 1) it’s a tired narrative furrow and 2) because Scozzaro actually dropped the denouement in at about 3 minutes and then proceeded to carry on as if she didn’t keep dropping it in again and again as poorly disguised hints. As result, there was little at stake from which to craft any drama. No meat to chew on. It made it hard to care properly about her characters.

When life doesn’t even give you lemons but weakly throws pistachio shells into your skinny macchiato, director Caitlín Doherty rightly reasons you’d best try and make shoes and pray to heaven for a charismatic tiny horse to wear them. And boy did she try and make that itty-bitty horsey dance a high tempo bhangra for all the little boys and girls.

Doherty hit the writing with the right attitude, focusing on Scozzaro’s satirical strengths and wringing as much awkwardness as possible from her dramatic cloth-rag to try and temper somewhat the clumsy about-turns in atmosphere.

Parker-Rees backs her up, utilising his Easter-Island-statue face to full comic ability in tandem with his ridiculous man-boy limbs. It’s another role to add to his collection of different grades of idiot (see The Tempest and The Good Soul of Sczechwan) he seems to be cultivating nicely in a crèche somewhere.

Likewise, Jones is almost faultless to a fault with her ditzy American academic. Unfortunately, Scozzaro bequeathed Emma Roberts with half a character, burdening her with an almost endless stream of dramatically useless questions for Parker-Rees’ Querl and Jones’ Curlington and she gets little chance to shine.

A final point. The play is 30 minutes long. On the one hand, in these harsh revision wastelands, that’s not too long to have to hold in those loose bowels suffering your worrying about glacial equations or how your essay ‘Hamlet would’ve been alright if he’d have been less gay about everything’ will play in your tragedy paper.

On the other hand, from its dramatic thrust there seemed little point to it being that short, bar the playwright forgetting the use of words and continuing in challenging binary code sonnets. I hope it’s not some post-post-modern ironic statement that, fitting the play’s title, you should want more. If it is, knock off another star. I wanted more, yep, just not more of that.

Scozzaro has writing talent and a clever turn of phrase. Next time, can I have a bit more meat? A likke bitta tongue or a Quorn snout for likke ol’Laurie.