REVIEW: GUN METAL BLUE (Old Red Lion Theatre) ★★★★

Gun Metal Blue

Laura in a Night club with her on-line date, Matthew. He drinks whisky, while she, at his insistence, drinks a bright blue cocktail called a Gun Metal Blue. They are making friendly, small talk while he strokes her arms and shoulders erotically. It is the first time they have met, and now neither of their lives will ever be the same.

The location changes and they are in Laura’s living room, late at night. Laura appears, drunk, hardly able to stand up, Matthew is relatively sober. It is clear that he is intent on sex with her while she is incapable of fighting back. But all is not as it seems.

While Mathew prowls Laura’s house alone, searching for his mobile phone which he seems to have mislaid, there is an unexpected knock at the door and Fraser, Laura’s father lets him self in, apologising to Mathew for interrupting them. Laura is in the adjacent room bedroom. Mathew is confused, unsure of what is happening, suspicious. When Laura comes out of her bedroom, she is stone cold sober, carrying a pistol and threatening to kill Matthew. When Laura’s brother-in-law, Ben, also turns up a few minutes later, it is clearly a trap, but to what End? And how could they have known what was going to happen?

This is not an easy play to watch. It deals with two of the most pernicious aspects of today’s hip society, date rape and the subsequent humiliation of the victim. By comparison, the family’s extreme reaction seems positively justified. But there is more, much more to the story.

Just as you are expecting a bloody conclusion, a secondary story emerges. Discussions occur which reveal the family has it’s own dirty secrets. No one is innocent, they all have something to be ashamed of. However their guilt makes them even more intransigent. It is not looking good for the would be rapist.

The cast are, without exception, both very experienced and excellent. Sasha Wilson, who plays Laura is a writer as well as a performer who has appeared in many of the classics. She manages the transition between the apparent ingénue to avenging harridan perfectly.

C J Barton plays Laura’s flawed father. He brilliantly portrays a normally decent man, forced into extreme actions. C J has appeared on television, and on the stage in the Netherlands, in California and in London etc.

The gloriously named Paris Bailey plays Ben. Ben is an uncompromisingly aggressive character, who Paris plays with great skill and menace. Paris has previously appeared in many plays from Shakespeare to Berkoff, Becket to Pinter.

Lastly there is bad boy Matthew, who is a character with superficial charm but no redeeming features. He is played by the excellent Jed Shardlow. Jed has played in many of the great classic plays in Britain and in Germany.

This is the second play written by Helen Jeffery. It shines a light on the darker recesses of the internet and a man’s rape fetish. The play surprisingly, contains an element of very dark humour and maintains a constant vicarious excitement and tension throughout. It is brilliantly written. The ending is as sudden as it is shocking.

Reviewed bt Graham Archer
Photo: Thomas Schlordt Photography