Theatre review: ‘Piranha Heights’ at the Old Red Lion Theatre
A violent, disturbing vision of British society, the revised version of Philip Ridley’s black comedy Piranha Heights is not for the faint- hearted. First staged in 2008 at the Soho Theatre, D.E.M. Productions now previewed a new interpretation of the modern theatre-hit directed by Max Barton at the Old Red Lion Theatre
In Piranha Heights, the stage feels like a hostile space and one can only be glad to be seated in the audience to view the dramatic plot unfold from within this safety-bubble. The play starts with a big bang of emotional abuse between brothers and develops into a full-blown orgy of violence.
The plot is set in a working-class home and revolves around five people, each representing a different psychosis. Ranging from a god complex to violently aggressive, there is enough material for a memorable evening. Alan and Terry, the middle-aged brothers, stir up their past while managing their mother’s recent demise. With the entry of Lily and her intensely excitable husband Medic, the atmosphere takes an even darker turn until the abyss is reached with the introduction of the neglected son Garth, played by Jassa Ahluwalia.
The acting is uninhibited and extreme, not just in the body movement but also in the facial expressions. Ryan Gerald, performing as Medic, keeps the audience glued to his eyes with an insane stare that makes his character unpredictable and scarily hostile. The cast has to work with everything from full frontal nudity to physical violence and extremely vulgar language but they do it with conviction.
It is actually mentally exhausting to watch the play and the intermission is a necessity to get some energy back for the second half. This makes it even more amazing to see how the performers themselves last. This is simply great acting and a star example of physical and in-yer-face theatre. Whether one is already a fan or new to this genre, this is the play to watch.
You can see Piranha Heights at the Old Red Lion Theatre until December 6. Tickets for £19.25 (Concession £16.50)