In a beige bedsit, with beige wallpaper and a beige husband, Joyce wiles away the endless hours of her colourless life. Her cheeks are porcelain white but Joyce - or is her name Sarah or Madeleine? – has a racy red past. Into this fading life bursts Wilson, a man purportedly looking for a room but in reality seeking answers about his brother's murder.
‘The Ruffian on the Stair' is one of Joe Orton's few short plays and its relative brevity means his characteristic cruelty has been sharpened to a fine point. This is encouragingly risky programming from Greenwich playhouse and Chriorando's production gleams with dangerous characters and spikey banter.
Jack Brackstone-Brown, as the leering lodger Wilson, is a Cheshire cat villain with razor claws and his scenes bristle with untapped violence. Unfortunately, the dark atmosphere is slightly too pervasive and some of the brilliant one liners don't gleam as they should.
'Erpingham Camp' is a lighter affair: a camp-site comedy, based on The Bacchae. It's 'Carry On' with an edge and Chiorando's company captures the salacious, silly set pieces well. In the liveliest scene, the Entertainment Officers loses control of his guests to amusingly anarchic effect: two women wage war with their handbags, a chap in a Tarzan suit runs riot and a drunken Tory woozily removes his shorts.
But 'Erpingham' also includes a priest with a penchant for teenagers and a moustached leader with dictatorial tendencies. An enjoyable romp but it's missing the dark undercurrents that flowed so naturally from Orton's pen.
Average User Rating
5 / 5
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Actually had me laughing out loud in many places! Extremely funny and singing and dancing too. Ruffian On the Stair is a lot more serious, but no less enjoyable. Very good!
Ruffian had me hooked from the opening scene and is a great dark comedy with dark undercurrents played superbly by all the cast. Erpingham is a lol comedy. Well worth it!