HighTide review: Mudlarks

Mudlarks, by Vickie Donoghue, High Tide Festival, Halesworth, May 13.

A CHUNK of concrete is dropped from a bridge onto a busy road.

Two of the perpetrators run away but the third gazes down on the scene below – transfixed by the sight of the smashed windscreen of the lorry embedded in the bridge and the bleeding body of the driver..

The three meet on a mud bank in the nearby estuary – a place frequented by the dregs of society.

There is a moment in Donoghue’s new play, set along the banks of the Thames Estuary, where all the action, all the energy and all the desperation of wasted lives comes to a head; one of the three young man has been stabbed and the others – one with low aspirations, the other on the brink of a bright new life – face an inevitable future.


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Then the playwright just blows it, taking the audience on a pointless journey of fantasy when we all know what the outcome will be. At the same time and almost from the hand of a completely new writer, the dialogue took a decidedly downward turn with a string of unconvincing lines such as from one of the youths saying of France: “I don’t speak the language and I don’t like garlic.”

This a great pity because, although dealing with a well-worn theme, this play really buzzed along and was full of slick, penetrating dialogue and action, aided by an imaginative set and superb lighting and sound.

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Director, Will Wrightson, had the actors plunging down steep slopes into a mudflat where, amidst of the flotsam and jetsam, sat a holed, decaying boat, a strong symbol of degeneration.

There were three great performances from the young actors playing three contrasting and very well-drawn characters adrift on the sea of under-privilege and false hope.

David Green

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