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Dead Boy Café

by on 18 May 2022

Brooding Edginess

Dead Boy Café

by Grant Corr

Questors at The Studio, Ealing until 21st May

Review by Heather Moulson

This was my first visit to The Questors, and I was very impressed by this lovely theatre set in the leafy Ealing.  It certainly deserves its stellar reputation, and it made me appreciate that I was late coming to the party.   Dead Boy Café, currently playing at the Questors’ Studio is well worth a visit.   

This is the première, belated by the pandemic, of a gripping new play, written by Grant Corr, the winner of The Questors’ National Playwriting Competition 2019, who has moved on to further success by having several of his plays staged.  Dead Boy Café is a worthy winner giving a hundred minutes of strong writing and sharp dialogue … although it could have got away with an interval. 

Sensitively directed by John Davey, and moodily lit by John Green, they both did the brooding piece justice in this avenue theatre.  The intricate set was designed by Ray Dunning, who did not spare a single detail.  The skills of sound designer James Connor really set the mood.

With a cast of four, set in the present day in a sad looking fish and chip shop café in a Northern Irish border town, we were taken across six scenes over three days.  Featuring raw emotions and drastic changes, we encounter a bereaved and disturbed widow, her bitter and scarred mother-in-law, the former’s married Police Officer lover.  Then a young man turns up soaked, and the connotations of what he says hint at knowing the deceased Kevin.

There was a lot to unravel with bitterness, mental illness; and with awakening emotions and lust.  With things unsaid, the writer took us through these four character’s flaws and sadness and frustrations … but the unsaid were eventually said.

It was a painstakingly authentic set of a run-down chip shop café, with intricate detail.  The juke box with its kitschy Country-and-Western music set the seedy mood nicely, and was a powerful focal point.  The Northern Irish accents were strong, and convincing.  A special mention must be made to David Erdos as Martin, and to Wendy Megeney, who plays Ruby, for their tangible edginess.  The other two members, Sam Ebner-Landy and Carol Fullilove were no less convincing, and the sexual chemistry between them was believable indeed. 

Janet’s sadness and sense of a life wasted, who finally had the courage to leave, touched us.  The suffering and loss of the overbearing, and physically scarred, mother-in-law was awe inspiring.  Did these people deserve their fate?  It is a question we asked ourselves as we left the theatre.  I know that we all wanted them to outgrow the small lives they led. 

Heather Moulson, May 2022

Photography by Robert Vass and Evelina Plonyte

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