Wolf Meat

★★★
theatre review | Read in About 2 minutes
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Wolf Meat
Published 18 Aug 2017

I’m not quite sure how this comedy got its name, except perhaps because it’s wild, bloody and tough to swallow. Wildheart are a young company making the kind of surreal, joke-packed theatre that’s incredibly difficult to get right. They don’t quite nail it, but it’s a heck of a lot of fun watching them try.

They’ve created an intriguing atmosphere: a sort of Only Fools and Horses meets Kill Bill mix of retro awkwardness and hyperviolence. A machiavellian granny and her clueless son are running a drugs empire together, from the safety of their Croydon flat. But undercover policewoman PC Dawn Taylor is trying her best to make them sweat into their lurid polyester clobber, as she sets a honey trap to bring them down.

What follows is an almost literal orgy of disguises, incestuous couplings and warped violence. It feels like a Jacobean tragedy, dragged cackling and screaming into the present day. It’s a piece that gets its power to amuse, and horrify, from the way it continually undermines and unsettles your expectations. Performers lurch unreliably in and out of character, morph from usher to actor, victim to victimiser.

Directed by Mick Barnfather, the cast are tight-knit and fully committed, tumbling across the stage and into the late night crowd, delighting as they squirm. Sometimes, their relentless energy stretches the jokes out too far, letting them subside into empty bleakness. There’s not much meat to this story, and as soon as the audience stop laughing they realise it. But fortunately, there’s enough bloody mayhem to ensure that doesn’t happen much.