Long Live the Little Knife, Traverse, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show details
Fire Exit
David Leddy (director and writer), Ali Maclaurin (design), Nich Smith (lighting design), Tommy Ga-Ken Wan (photo), Sam Rowe (assistant director)
Neil McCormack (Jim) and Wendy Seager ( Liz )
Running time

As soon as you enter the space of Traverse One for David Leddy’s Long Live the Little Knife it’s clear something utterly outlandish is going on. Actors Neil McCormack (Jim) and Wendy Seager (Liz) have the gallus air of street traders as they shout, marshalling the audience to the seats on stage or, in good ushering tradition, encouraging the filling of the front rows first. All these seats are covered in paint spattered sheets, more of which are hung to create a performance space with its air of chaos where this labyrinthine tale unwinds.

Jim and Liz are a pair of con artists caught up in a turf war involving fake vintage handbags. To find the enormous sum needed to get them protected, the invisible Wee Man, the operation’s Mr Big suggests they up their game and move into the world of art forgery in spite of their complete lack of talent with a paintbrush or sculptor’s chisel. The outrageous plan goes awry but results in an unexpected resolution.

Leddy claims that this is a piece of verbatim theatre based on a meeting he had with a wide couple in a pub and uses the sound/ technical person sat on stage to read his part - a so-called fake actor reading a fake story, but who can tell truth from fiction in this mish mash of deceit?

The unisex dressed actors start as a Glaswegian woman and Cockney man but shift and slip from one to the other along with an accomplished gamut of other accents making this darkly funny high relief piece even more confusing. Neil McCormack and Wendy Seager are a brilliant team as they bat off each other throughout taking turns to speak directly to the audience both in and out of character as they take us through a world of thieving, cheating, pimping along with their own underlying childless sorrow.

The quick fire language is at once course and inventive; a mix of street talk, alliteration and poetry. A superb range of music accompanies it throughout, notably Maria Callas's voice at the castration scene and the song It’s all a Swindle from Ute Lemper.

This sharp play may lose its own way in the murk at parts but this is ball busting, in yer face theatre where the world of forgery is turned inside out to show these players being played with squirm inducing relish. Like a Jackson Pollock painting, it is random and messy yet over all works compellingly well.

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