Violence and Son – The Royal Court

violenceWritten by Gary Owen, Violence and Son is a new play being presented in the round at the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs at The Royal Court. The story centres on Liam, played by David Moorst, a teenage boy who after his mother’s untimely death finds himself living with his previously absent and loutish father, nicknamed Violence.

The play starts out as a funny and slightly awkward teenage liaison after Liam has taken the objects of his affections, Jen to a Doctor Who convention. Jen is from the much cooler crowd and is dating the local high school heart throb. Played with great sensitivity by Morfydd Clark, the character of Jen shows perfectly the torment of youthful feelings and confusions coupled with a voracious appetite for honourability.

As the play grows darker the themes of domestic violence and a child’s sometimes misplaced loyalties are uncomfortably truthful and at times almost too painful to watch. Moorst’s Act two monologue about his mother’s final days of life is pure agony, and yet beautifully written and delivered. Moorst gives a truly momentous portrayal of the geeky Liam, who with no where else to turn has to rely on his immensely flawed father for moral guidance.

Jason Hughes as Rick/Violence plays the thug with a very convincing menace and at times it feels like we are watching a caged animal. For anyone who has been affected in some way by domestic violence, this feels like a very candid portrayal right down to the crippling guilt and remorse post incident.

Siwan Morris as Suze, Rick’s libidinous foil helps to lighten some of the otherwise quite harrowing text but also sadly illustrates the trappings the British underclass.

I did feel trying to introduce another extremely serious theme into the play near to the end was a bridge too far. With not enough time for full development it did verge on becoming a bit caricatured which was a shame considering how well the other issues had been tackled earlier.

Reviewed by Nicky Sweetland
Photo: Helen Maybanks

Violence and Son is playing at the Royal Court Theatre until 11 July 2015. Click here for more information and to book tickets