web analytics

THE CURING ROOM – The Pleasance Theatre, London.

The Curing Room - The Pleasance IslingtonI was excited to see The Curing Room, the new play by David Ian Lee, currently playing at The Pleasance, Islington. I couldn’t fit it into my busy Edinburgh schedule this year and had heard raves from friends who saw it in there. I was intrigued as to whether I would find the play as harrowing and moving as they did. I didn’t. Although there are some heartfelt and truthful performances, the play never reaches past it’s startling concept and instead of adding to the piece, I found the seven naked men writhing around on a bare stage, ultimately distracting and detrimental to a less than solid piece.

The Curing Room tells of seven Soviet soldiers, stripped of their uniforms, locked in the basement of an old monastery with no food, water or way of escaping. When hunger eventually sets in, their cannibalistic nature is revealed and one by one they are killed off in various manners by their comrades, and then eaten. After the first few deaths and the subsequent gruesome depiction of dissecting , then eating the dead bodies, the play simply becomes a game of ‘Who’s Next?’, and although playwright Lee adds a touch of sentimentality to the piece, that too becomes as predictable as the rest of the play.

Director Joao De Souza does the cast no favours by having them launch at the dialogue at almost break neck speed and the scene changes are mostly clunky, awkward and unimaginative. There are however some hidden gems, with the performances of recent graduates Matt Houston, and particularly Rupert Elmes, shining through and a specifically moving turn by the final officer in charge, played with touching sincerity by Harvey Robinson.

The advertising campaign for this show has obviously worked wonders though. The Theatre was rammed with single gentlemen of a certain age and The Pleasance was the busiest I have seen it in a long time. A shame then that I found this play such a disappointment. Harrowing indeed, but for all the wrong reasons.

– – – – – – – – – –

Reviewed 28/10/14

By Rory Maxwell

21st Oct – 9th Nov 2014
The Pleasance Theatre, London, N7.

Comments are closed.