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The Times
2Graves
Arts Theatre
7 November 2006
 

What’s the meaning of the tricksy – sounding title of the decidedly untricksy monologue that reopens the refurbished Arts Theatre? The author, Paul Sellar, reveals that only after his narrative has come to a grisly, gruesome close. If you must go looking for revenge, concludes his protagonist, dig two graves – one for yourself.

Actually, Jonathan Moore’s Jack is in a psychological grave some time before he takes revenge on a professional darts player called Big Ron and his criminal sidekick, Mad Michael Franks. He has been sucked into the East End underworld after being landed with a debt incurred by his late father, has gambled with his boss’s money and lost, come within inches of being shot dead in reprisal, and done years in prison after taking the rap for the murder that saved him. He is, you feel, a decent man contaminated, brutalised, destroyed: Hamlet or some other neo-Jacobean avenger as thug and butcher.

Moore puts all this across from a big, heavy chair which, were a few wooden slats to be filled in, would look as if it had been designed for his electrocution. Since much of what he reports is rhymed and all sounds as if it’s couched in verse, one is persistently reminded of Steven Berkoff’s East. But there’s no comic mock-heroic here. This is raw, blunt stuff.

Benedict Nightingale