Tuesday, 22 September 2009

The Fastest Clock in the Universe.

After work up to Hampstead with Carol and Vix to see a revival of Philip Ridley's The Fastest Clock in the Universe. It's a strange play dabbling in metaphor and metaphysics.

Thirty year old Cougar is preparing once again to celebrate his nineteenth birthday. His present to himself is, as every year, denial and a teenage boy to seduce, all aided and abetted by his long suffering sugar daddy Captain Tock.

When Foxtrot, the young victim of the plan arrives, he has a surprise all of his own, pregnant girlfriend Sherbet, who brings a stultifying effect to the party slowly outing each stage of Cougar's deception, whilst carefully nursing 'the future one'. Things end very badly, but not before we're thoroughly reminded of the transitory nature of youth and the difficult importance of growing up and making way for the next generation.

I'm amazed to discover the play was first produced in 1992, several years before Cool Britannia and the the In-Yer-Face plays of Anthony Nielsen and Sarah Kane. It's gruesome, slightly off kilter and frequently, for all it's cruelty, rather poetic and brilliant. It was ahead of its moment and seems to have retained shape over the interim seventeen years.

Particularly impressive is Jamie Winstone, who gets right under the skin of Sherbet. Cajoling, toying and provoking she angles each line and response with a fabulous mixture of innocence and menace. She's ably supported by Finbar Lynch as Tock, a man who realises the game is up, but rather enjoys the unravelling. Fastest Clock is part thriller, part black comedy and part morality tale, which in this well acted production makes for a very good cocktail.

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