Review: Ruthlessness Preview at the Cube

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The Edinburgh Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world with over 2,500 shows this year alone. Last year, Theatre Group’s original production “The Spectacular Tales of Grinburrell” was received with glowing reviews; Ruthlessness hopes to match that feat with equal enthuse.

The writing team of Alexis Forss and Alexander Curtis  have created an impressively high energy, dark comedy that can only be described as “Tarantino-esque”.

The basic premise of the show follows Carlyle, the son of a high ranking mob boss who upon his father’s death, finds himself at the head of the latter’s criminal empire. Carlyle attempts to use a rigged bet with a local politician in order to secure planning permission for a Super Casino. Simultaneously, two of his father’s former lackeys are trying to put together the money they owe him and end up inadvertently throwing a spanner into his plans.

Quite possibly the funniest show the group has put on this year, many of the biggest laughs come from the antics of Lenny (Alexander Curtis) and Guy (Tom Searle): the hapless duo trying desperately to raise the money to repay their debts and eventually their interaction with “Metal Mickey” the boxer (Raess Mahmood), which serves as a high point of the show.

The standout performance, however, is the beautifully psychotic Carlyle as portrayed by Sam Dobson, who encompasses equally a charismatic politician and a cruel, paranoid patriarch. Amy Fitzgibbon’s turn as Carlyle’s scheming mother Donna is suitably cold and Joel Jackson is highly entertaining as his long suffering, underling Goldenthal, frequently bearing witness to Carlyle’s more aggressive outbursts.

Technically the show is minimalistic, the team have a only an hour to set up and as such it has little in regards to conventional staging, yet this only works to its benefit by allowing for greater focus on the performance throughout. Although changing of set during a show can occasionally prove distracting, here it was generally covered by action elsewhere so as not too steal focus. The auditorium for the preview was very small, with an audience capacity which can’t have been more than 40, meaning that the action was very close for the entirety of the show. This allowed a better connection with actor and audience, but also highlighted the few minor mishaps that occurred in the performance, although nothing which caused any major detriment to the show itself. With a long run at Edinburgh ahead, any issues will inevitably be ironed out for the final run.

Overall the show was highly entertaining and immensely funny. Though relatively short, I enjoyed every minute of it. The whole cast, as well as the writing and directing team have done an excellent job and I’m sure their run at The Fringe will be equally successful.

Ruthlessness was previewed at The Cube from the 6-8th August 2012

It is currently running at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival from the 13-27th of August.

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