Derby Theatre, Friday 5th October, 2012
“It’s not as easy as you think, you see: killing a baby.” That’s the opening line of Jane Upton’s stark but gripping play, a one-hander performed by Joe Doherty. Alan Bennett it ain’t.
Mark is a chav from Nottingham: trackie bottoms and a gold chain. His appearance and attitude (and of course that opening line) cause us to form an opinion of him from the off. As he recounts his story, our opinion shifts. We begin to understand his situation and empathise. Somewhat.
His accounts of his life – in particular the treasured memory of a holiday to Skegness when he was a boy – are the stuff of nightmares. That happy time is marred by his mother’s overdose and his grandfather’s…conduct – incomprehensible to a child.
The narrative dips in and out of memory but we are never confused about where and when we are in the story, thanks to clear direction from Laura Ford and Angharad Jones. And thanks of course to powerful and intense storytelling by Joe Doherty. We don’t end up liking Mark but we come away thinking he deserves attention at least. We understand why he is the way he is. He shows us beyond the stereotype and into his own personal Hell.
It is an intense hour. Jane Upton’s script has an authenticity to it, a realism that is leavened with dark humour and flashes of humanity among the depravity and deprivation.
Joe Doherty is definitely one to watch.