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A CurtainUp LondonLondon Review
Flesh Wound
by Lizzie Loveridge

I'm not angry. I ain't angry at all. I'm the opposite of angry which is intelligent.
-- Vincent
Ché Walker's second play, Flesh Wound, a dark comedy, is set in a tower block flat among the small time criminal gangs of North London and is produced at the Royal Court in their ninety seat theatre, the Jerwood Upstairs. Tamzin Outhwaite late of the BBC's long running soap Eastenders plays Deirda, sister to one and step daughter to the other two cast members.

The play is a tight, well acted study of family obligation and ties with incidental, incongruous, high flown language used to provide some of the humour. Ché Walker's writing shows promise with the lyricism of some passages and therre are echoes of Joe Orton and even Pinter -- but the plot structure relies on switches which I found confusing rather than convincing.

Joseph (Michael Attwell) has been missing presumed dead when he comes to his step daughter Deirdra's (Tamzin Outhwaite) flat to find out where his son Vincent (Andrew Tiernan) is hiding from a powerful gangland family called the Caderazzos. At first suspicious, Deirdra thinks this stranger might be one of the Calderazzos. Vincent arrives having narrowly escaped his demise at the hand of the irate family. It seems that Rosie Calderazzo, a "special needs" girl has given birth and named Vincent as the father of her baby.

The giant figure of Joseph in his designer navy cashmere coat and dark suit encompasses both the tenderness of a loving parent and a man who can break all of the fingers on his son's hand while reciting the This Little Piggy rhyme. Throughout the play is the theme of blood being thicker than water and the idea that one can mete out justice to one's own.

Tazmin Outhwaite as Deirdra is a tense, agitated figure, every sinew bristling, quivering against the stranger. She lives in her shabby flat, "twenty floors above the madness" reading trashy novels, ready to pull a knife on any visitor but distancing herself from the gangland. She is a loner, a potential victim in this criminal society and she bears the psychological wounds just as her front door shows signs of having been reinforced after having been kicked in. Michael Attwell as Joseph captures his character's dichotomy. He is both attractive and repulsive, handsome and friendly but very, very dangerous and unpredictable. Andrew Tiernan's Vincent ("I'm a piss taker not an assassin") is a loser, a wastrel and a liar but vulnerable for all that.

Wilson Milan who was the director of the important blackly comic hit, The Lieutenant of Inishmore is at the helm The wide set is used in the Jerwood Upstairs to give a shallow playing area, a balcony to one side, a bathroom to the other. The flat is clean but the scuffed furniture and décor have seen better days. The play's ending has a certain Tarantino-type inevitability. Flesh Wound is one of those plays which I find I warm to as I write about them. That is to say I like it more now than when I came out of the theatre.

Flesh Wound
Written by Ché Walker
Directed by Wilson Milam

Starring: Tamzin Outhwaite
With Michael Attwell, Andrew Tiernan
Designer : Dick Bird
Lighting Designer: Neil Austin
Sound: Ian Dickinson
Running time: One hour thirty minutes without an interval
Box Office: 0207 565 5000
Booking to 7th June 2003
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 20th May 2003 Performance at the Jerwood Upstairs, Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, London SW1 (Tube Station: Sloane Square)

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