Robert Tanitch reviews Glass. Kill. Bluebeard. Imp. by Caryl Churchill at Royal Court Theatre, London SE1
Caryl Churchill and the Royal Court are practically synonymous. Churchill, now in her eighties, can always be relied on to come up with something special and unusual.
Here are her latest plays, four characteristically short works made up of tiny scenes, and directed by her favourite director, James Macdonald.
Four children sit on a narrow platform above the stage. One minute they are children; the next they say they are a girl made of glass, a clock, a red plastic dog and a vase on a mantelpiece, all breakable objects. Glass is a story of parental sexual abuse and suicide.
Gods and murders. A god (speaking for all the gods) sits on a cloud above the stage. A little boy sits on the floor and draws. The boy represents all the people in the world
The god, in a long monologue, tells practically every Greek myth you have ever heard: a catalogue of war, murder, patricide, matricide, infanticide, brutal bloody homicides, rape, incest, cannibalism, wars that go on for ten years and children constantly being sacrificed
The god (played by Tom Mothersdale), wittily admits “we can’t do anything; we don’t exist”; but, very bitter and very angry, he also makes it loudly clear that the gods don’t like what people are doing and want them to stop murdering each other.
Bluebeard’s friends are horrified to find that he is a serial killer, a monster. He played the piano so beautifully. He was kind, clever, funny and everybody loved him .He was charming, handsome, witty, a classic psychopath. He knew how to pick women, all those weddings, and all those failed marriages. Hundreds turned up for his funeral; far more than turned up for the funerals of his victims
What’s to happen to the castle now that he’s dead? It could be turned into a tourist attraction, the perfect place to have a wedding reception, and an ideal location for movies to hire. And as for the bloodied dresses of the murdered wives they could be copied and marketed.
Dot and Jimmy, two cousins, in their late fifties/late sixties, live together. Jimmy (Toby Jones) jogs. Dot (Deborah Findlay) stays in her chair and has attacks of asthma. She has an imp in a bottle. They entertain their niece (Louisa Harland) and a homeless man (Tom Mothersdale), a former addict.