Violence and Son at the Royal Court
The latest play to come from award-winning Gary Owen, Violence and Son is a darkly intimate portrayal of family life and the legacy parents pass on to their children. It deals truthfully with the complexity of domestic violence and the ripple of effects it has in the lives of those who encounter it.
David Moorst delivers Liam as a convincing know-it-all teenager, styled on the 11th Doctor, who’s had the brakes slammed on his progression to adulthood by the loss of his mum. He makes jokes but they’re underpinned with a morose note, like he’s going through the motions. Opposite him as Jen, Morfydd Clark brings a playful aspect to their relationship and a willingness to confront things that Liam would rather let be, but with a simultaneous vulnerability and loneliness that mirrors his. Their coarse dialogue is authentic and introduces brutality to the mundane from the outset.
As Liam’s “biological male parent”, Rick (aka “Vile”), played by Jason Hughes, is every inch the alpha male; he has the swagger of a bear that could kill you with one paw, but there’s also an overarching sense of his protective, paternal nature. He’s a character the audience warms to in spite of knowing he broke a man’s jaw, he’s every man who spends his Saturday drinking Fosters on the settee. His girlfriend Suze (Siwan Morris) is every woman who has ever felt vulnerable in a rowdy pub. Her childhood Saturdays of chips for tea, Doctor Who on television and the intense, stomach-churning fear of the daleks are translated to the stage, with the only real difference being that the fear is of Rick’s violent ways rather than aliens.
The set is at once claustrophobic and comforting, reflecting the double bind of Rick’s protection but also the threat he embodies. Differing accounts and manipulated memories are addressed and resurface, causing an uncertainty that makes the audience deeply uneasy as they question their preconceptions. In the final twists, it feels as though Owen might be pushing too hard to prove Philip Larkin’s This Be the Verse right: viewers are challenged to accept the break in Liam’s character but it also passes as comment on the blurred lines of domestic violence.
Violence and Son is not comfortable viewing, but it deals with heavy subjects with honesty and as the audience exits into Sloane Square – a million miles away from the scenes they’ve seen – it stays with them.
Violence and Son is on at the Royal Court Theatre from 3rd June until 11th July 2015, for further information or to book visit here.
Watch the trailer here:
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