It’s been 5 days since I watched Philip Ridley’s Mercury Fur at the Lowgate Centre in Hull and I think my sleeping pattern has only just returned back to normal after the brutal, gut-wrenching production.
Set in the (scarily) near future, the site-specific play immerses us in a broken and disgusting society, a place which makes you feel ashamed to be part of the human-race. Britain is ruled by gangs, no where is safe; even hospitals and supermarkets. An infestation of hallucinogenic butterflies swarms the country, the population fixate on these new creatures. They become the new craze, however, like any drug, cause devastating side-effects.
“Step over the dead dog and turn right” are the instructions you are given as you enter the building, involving the audience member from the moment they walk in. The toilets are littered with beer bottles, the bar is a dingy side room and the performance room is covered in graffiti, litter and abandoned furniture. The audience are sat centimetres away from the performers and there is a real sense of “we’re all in this together”; leaving you feeling both appalled and helpless at the end of the play.
The young cast of Mercury fur, directed by the talented Paul Smith, is what made Middle Child’s production outstanding, as well as the cleverly designed set and eerie music and lighting.
The play follows the story of brothers: Elliot (Joshua Mayes Cooper) and Darren (Laurie Jamieson) who are doing all they can to survive in the sadistic world they live in. Their forceful leader Spinx (Edward Cole) calls the shots, organising a very disturbing party for a wealthy city boy (James Stayner) with an unforgivable fantasy he wishes to fulfil.
Cooper and Jamieson deserve a special mention for their electrifying performance, making it a very honest and truthful spectacle.
This is a play like no other I have seen and I would urge everyone to see this production. You will question our society, values, culture and beliefs; is the image which the play portrayed too similar to the image of our society?
Mercury Fur, The Lowgate Centre – 14th-24th October 2015