Mercury Fur

Thu 4th – Mon 29th August 2016

reviews

Sebastian Ng

at 09:58 on 13th Aug 2016

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'Mercury Fur' is not an easy script to stage. The events we witness occur in an alternate reality, a world which has gone really wrong and that seems to operate by its own rules – there is talk of eating butterflies as a hallucinogenic; of preparing a ‘party piece’ for a ‘party guest’ for a party that sounds more sinister than fun – but the play does not seem to be much concerned with familiarising the audience with it, handing out details about the world and its characters with the generosity of Ebenezer Scrooge giving alms. In fact, we are not even privy to what the characters in the play are attempting to do until the beginning of the third act.

This opacity of information means that the only thing the audience is certain of are the very human relationships that can be observed through the ensemble’s interactions with one another, rendering us entirely dependent on the actors’ ability to compel us to stay interested throughout the play’s unbroken 105-minute running time. This is a challenge the cast handle admirably, staying fully present with nary a false note. Raymond Wilson excels as the perpetually stressed out Elliot; to him goes all of the high-sounding vocabulary and the alliterative verbal assaults ("you worthless pile of Caucasian cum!"), delivered in such fiery velocity that one cannot help but notice the actor is sweating five minutes into the play. Elliot often lashes out at his younger brother, Darren – sensitively portrayed by Callum Partridge, who like half the characters in the play seems to suffer from some form of cognitive impairment – but every so often the love for his brother shines through, and to his credit Wilson’s portrayal never appears schizophrenic. Robert Turner, as the dimwitted and eager-to-please orphan Naz, draws our sympathy, and then mesmerises us with a sublimely delivered monologue about his tragic backstory. The rest of the cast, from the senile Duchess (Siofra Dromgoole) to the demented Party Guest (William Watt), are never anything less than convincing in their respective roles.

The set is suitably gloomy, consisting of dilapidated furniture, and initially bathed in near-darkness, lit only by Elliot and Darren’s torchlights frantically sweeping about the room, before gradually – and inconspicuously – getting brighter so that we are able to see the action. The overall feeling is one of pessimistic dread; the only levity the audience will ever get comes from the lighter moments in the dialogue (a jumbled-up recollection of mid-20th century history being one of the highlights). However, I should stress that it is an entertaining sort of dread, a happy oxymoron achieved with sound directorial choices and a praiseworthy cast. I could not commend the production more for a job well done.

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Kate Nicholson

at 14:14 on 13th Aug 2016

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It is a challenge to put on a dystopic show when you are limited to a minimalistic stage and three chairs for your props. To make the audience feel displaced, to truly believe that they are in a world that is falling apart is a real achievement. Yet, this is exactly what Fear No Colours accomplish. Two hours of letting us in to witness post-apocalyptic, helpless world in real time and real place, 'Mercury Fur' is completely immersive, cathartic and tragic. A tale of a dystopian world, abuse, brotherhood and loss, Fear No Colours gave the renowned 'Mercury Fur' a new energy.

The relationship between Elliot (Raymond Wilson) and Darren (Callum J.R. Partridge) is touching, a darkened take on the relationship between Lenny and George in Steinbeck's ‘Of Mice and Men’. Wilson perfectly captures the pent-up frustration and fear after years of being responsible for his brother. With rants so fast and furious, his words act as the metaphorical bullets directed towards Darren in a world that revolves around physical violence. Their chemistry is tangible, and evident still even when the stage is occupied by the rest of the cast. However, Wilson does deliver his lines through bursts of shouting (quite an admirable feat when his lines are so lengthy), which actually waters down the effect as the play progresses.

Spinx (Samuel Skoog), in contrast, owns the room as soon as he enters it; yet the audience is still conscious that not even he can manipulate the events of this post-apocalyptic world, where nothing is stable. With a jutting jaw and eyeliner on one eye, true fear is instilled in the audience when even Skoog loses control.

With injections of dark humour, the audience also giggle and snicker unnervingly at the ignorance and the change in humans portrayed by Darren and Naz. Their brains, wrecked by hallucinogenic butterflies, instil great sadness in the audience as they recall the time that Kennedy married Marilyn Monroe and met Hitler, the youngest characters showing that there is no promise for the future of the dystopic either. Robert Turner, playing Naz, captures the true bewilderment one faces when the world you live in becomes out of your depth and you can no longer ‘understand’ it.

Fear No Colours greatly emphasises that, in a landscape where human life has become a source of trade, nothing is safe. I found myself fully engaged with every second - even when the action turned gruesome and the plot became even more devastating.

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