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Moral Panic

by on 7 July 2022

Cut to the Chase

Moral Panic

by Stuart Warwick

Blue Dog Theatre, Bitesize Festival at Riverside Studios, Hammersmith until 10th July

Review by Gill Martin

You only have to look at the titles of the offerings at the Bitesize Festival playing at Hammersmith’s Riverside Studios to know you are in for a smorgasbord of treats.

I am the Bomb; Bad Sex; Boris Live; Boorish Trumpson; The Man who lives under the Bed; A Plague on All your Houses; Impromptu Shakespeare – they should give you a flavour.

Comedy, drag, dance, music, dark drama and audience participation are all on the menu. The invite runs: Come for an hour, an evening, a week.  Leave inspired.

Instead of sitting through the conventional Act I and Act II with 20 minutes queuing at a crowded  bar for your tipple in a plastic glass in the interval, you can pick’n’mix from two or three nuggets an evening (plus a few matinees), each lasting around an hour.  And each for a tenner.

It’s a great way to encourage new and younger audiences to discover the delights of live theatre.  And, according to Riversides Studios Development Director Chris Martin, a way to support young artists and give them space to try out their ideas.  The Studios first tried out Bitesize last January with half a dozen shows.  It was so successful that now there are a bakers’ dozen throughout July.

My starter was a 55 minutes’ gem called Moral Panic, a one-man show starring the hugely talented Jack Cooper and directed by the writer, Stuart Warwick. The production, fresh from a sell-out run in Brighton, mixes murder, muddled morality, sexism and xenophobia all set in the Thatcher era.

Jack plays Charles Hawthorne, a repressed, up-tight video censor whose working days are spent watching such gems as The Cannibal Holocaust and Angels of Savage Grace, the latter featuring demonic nuns enjoying an orgy and using a crucifix as a phallus. He regards such morally degenerate films as a form of cultural terrorism.

His unseen wife Susan is a suburban housewife whose culinary prowess peaks at pineapple and cheese cubes and Upside-down Pudding.  Charles is a snobbish Cambridge graduate and two times chess champion who has sent his young son Timothy to private boarding school which he trusts will fix the child.  ‘You have to break their will.  It’s how you make great men,’ he opines.

This great man ends up on the wrong side of the law when a sexy new female Italian work-colleague Veronica threatens to take the promotion he feels he deserves.  Now I understand why the screeching music and orgasmic moaning at the start sounded like a cross between Psycho and Fifty Shades of Grey

What happens on his back garden lawn to the black sequinned Veronica could well be a bloody scenario in one of his video nasties.

Gill Martin, July 2022

Photography courtesy of Blue Dog Theatre

From → Drama, Fringe

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