Little Malcolm and His Struggle Against the Eunuchs
There have been many productions of David Halliwell’s play, most notably one starring Ewan McGregor and another staged by Mike Leigh. 50 years on though, time goes by in a cold, bleak bedsit in Huddersfield as art school reject Malcolm dozes on his bed. He stands up, talking to himself as he gazes out of the window. He’s going mad, talking to the walls; he looks at different audience members now and then, chatting to them, figments of his imagination.
Then, one by one, his friends stumble in and, disillusioned with their eunuch lifestyles, they decide to form a political party: Dynamic Erection. They start to role-play different scenarios, devise situations to practise for power. But as the play goes on, the games get more serious, until you realise this is probably how Hitler started out.
The casting and group dynamics are excellent. We have all met Irwin (Barney McElholm), we can all identify with Nipple’s (Scott Arthur) psychological vulnerability and Wick, (Laurie Jamieson) is someone we all used to know. You can see how men can come together, gel, and then act without thinking, driven by group rather than individual morality.
However, there are so many problems, it’s difficult to know where to begin. Billed as a comedy, it’s not very funny. The “Yorkshire” accents, a mix of Scottish, Scouse, Brummie and Geordie, are not only way off the mark, they are so badly pronounced, it’s a struggle to follow the plot. Ann (Rochenda Sandall) fails to communicate the warmth and gentleness in the woman she portrays. The bedsit is so plush, it’s surprising Malcolm doesn’t sell some of his things to buy food, having not eaten for 48 hours. And the pace is so unrelentingly frenetic, it’s not easy to engage.
Although some of the dialogue is interesting, and some of the nihilistic ideas are still relevant in this modern plutocracy, the play just isn’t very good. Malcolm (Daniel Easton) is likeable enough but director Clive Judd hasn’t captured the nuance of the North.
Little Malcolm and His Struggle Against the Eunuchs is on at Southwark Playhouse from 8th July until 1st of August 2015, for further information or to book visit here.