It’s not often that as an audience member you have your heart pounding in your mouth in fear one minute, and are howling with laughter the next. Matthew Kyne Baskott’s Consumables, playing at the King’s Head Theatre for only two performances is one of those rare pieces of theatre that can elicit a whole range of emotions all at once, and it manages to do it all in one short act.
Leonard, a middle-aged man for whom cleanliness and devotion to his mother are of paramount importance, has ‘ordered’ a young and destitute porn star off the internet. It’s obvious that when Leonard exchanges his floral apron for a floor length PVC number and gimp mask, while polishing his rather large knife (that’s not a euphemism) they are in for quite a night. But things don’t go to plan when it becomes apparent they both have a very different evening in mind, and to top it all off, nosey neighbour Mrs Josephs (Susan Aderin) keeps interrupting them.
That short summary really doesn’t do the plot justice, but to say anymore would be too much of a spoiler. What I can say is that Consumables is very cleverly written play which, under the direction of Louis Paxton, challenges audiences’ pre-conceptions at the same time as taking them on an emotional rollercoaster.
Timothy Harker, as Leonard, personifies the stereotype that is conjured up by the character description. The number one fan who knows everything about his prey but doesn’t hold the conviction to see his fantasy through. Harker’s depth of performance helps to easily set the scene and allows you to feel comfortable with the rather unusual situation.
Michael Hanratty is exceptional as Blaize, the porn star who always refers to himself in the third person. His performance is effortless, switching from the hyperactive cocky, to fearful, and on to despondent, all without missing a beat.
Consumables is a stunning piece of drama that shocks, terrifies and amuses in equal measure. The accomplished writing combined with meticulous performances makes for a fascinating watch, exploring complex themes from loneliness to sexual frustration.
Assuming it wouldn’t be of detriment to its current charms, Consumables could be developed further, perhaps with an expanded plot and second act, in which case I could definitely see it becoming a modern classic, which would have no difficulty gracing a West End stage.