Humour and horror come together in Delicacy – a domestic drama about murder most foul, and cottage pie – at The Space Arts Centre. Don’t watch on a full stomach.
The Gibsons are just a normal family from Bedford. Jodie runs a nursery, Duncan has been a security guard for 21 years – and working their way through their digestive systems are the remains of a murder victim, served to them in the guise of a cottage pie by their neighbour. The same neighbour who is now serving a life sentence for murdering 5 young women in the local area. You know – just family stuff.
The press pick up the story and the Gibsons find themselves labelled ‘The Cannibal Family’ in a very public bloodbath. Their teenage daughter Amber, despite being a vegetarian, is chomping at the bit to take over the family’s PR – taking to Instagram to change the narrative. Because, after all, isn’t cannibalism just another tired taboo?
Delicacy is a devilish and delicious debut play from writer Mark Jones. Performed as part of the Space Arts Centre’s Foreword Festival (a fantastic initiative for talented new writers to bring their scripts to life, the proof is in the pudding: Delicacy‘s a very impressive debut.
Given the subject matter, Jones’ play is surprisingly digestible. The dialogue is sharp and quick. Snackable, even. The audience sit on all sides watching Jodie and Duncan’s meltdown in the public eye, and Sammy Glover’s direction is excellent – smartly utilising the charming The Space Arts Centre’s unusual proportions to make it feel intimate.
The actors portraying Jodie and Duncan (Sarah Tortell and Colin Adrian) give such convincing and nuanced performances that you find yourself imagining the unimaginable: what would you do in their predicament? They focus on portraying the subtleties of a relationship under strain, of two people trying their best and making mistakes – and this elevates Delicacy beyond buffoonery.
The character of teenage rebel Amber, and her relationship to her parents, feels slightly less fleshed out – which is a shame because she drives most of the action in the later scenes. In an interview with The Space, Mark Jones has said that she’s his favourite character – which is surprising, though perhaps explains why she seems to have been scrutinised less than the others.
Delicacy starts off as bizarre, before evolving into a bizarrely compelling comedy about retribution, family and attention. This is an adept debut from Mark Jones, bound to whet an appetite for whatever he creates next.