Written by: Peeny (@AdamPeeny)
Where's Peen been?
Arcola Theatre, London
Was Peen keen?
A collection of grotesque, hard-hitting and meaningful stories that are beautifully brutal have you wide-eyed throughout. The more you watch, the more you don't know whether to laugh or cry. One thing the play does best is dare to imagine - and this production realises the imaginations in an expert fashion.
We're immersed in a room with two agrophobes who terrify one another with horror stories and nightmares; Haley Stray (Mariah Gale) daren't go to the shop anymore after being chased by ravenous dogs and Presley Stray (Chris New) didn't want his mum to find out he fried a pet snake to eat. They occupy each other day in, day out and are petrified of the outside. As siblings, there is a very true sense of love, adoration and most of all playfulness between both: they make the idea of them being the only two people left alive as realistic as the play is to the world today by way of utterly captivating story-telling. There is a certain beauty to the dreamy and numb characters throughout which becomes most apparent upon the entrance of a perfect intruder, named Cosmo Disney (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) and later his side-kick, Pitchfork Cavalier (Steve Guadino).
Cosmo dominates the room for the remainder of the production, and Stewart-Jarrett does an excellent job as what can only be assumed as a decisively 'modern' portrayal of Cosmo; he seems to be from a different generation completely. It's very obvious he doesn't face the same psychological issues as Haley and Presley, but the play on homophobia and abnormality amongst younger generations is a little too 21st Century in language and behaviour for it to not have been intentional. A relieving saviour is Stewart-Jarrett as he stays frozen in character whilst New comes completely out of character, very awkwardly demanding a group of audience members leave for taking notes on an iPad. Hot flushes all round; we see New on stage instead of Presley Stray for (at least) the next ten minutes of performance.
The play is realistic; the production is innovative and wholly immersive into the struggling life of two agoraphobic chocoholics. It sheds light on the world today and begs the audience to leave asking many questions about the society we live in as opposed to Haley's favourite kind of chocolate, and how actors prefer spectators to take notes: that much is made completely obvious.