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Mike Tilling
Arts Correspondent
1:00 AM 29th April 2024
arts

Rotten, My Cup Of Earl Grey

 
Rotten 
Photo: © Kieran Vyas
Rotten Photo: © Kieran Vyas
If you had asked for my thoughts ninety seconds into Rotten, I would have said, "Not my cup of Earl Grey." A young woman stands centre stage and apparently harangues the audience for being complacent bourgeoisie, replete with expletives. Later, we find out she has a different target.

If you had asked me for my thoughts ninety minutes into Rotten, I would have said, ‘loved it’. It moves from a domestic scene in a flat with three young women to farcical humour that is piano black. It is quite an odyssey in so little time.

Rotten 
Photo: © Kieran Vyas
Rotten Photo: © Kieran Vyas
The cast is absolutely of the type I like: young, enthusiastic, and possessed of enough skill to draw an audience into their world. Sonia (Kavita Vyas), Saoise (Nicola Taggart), and Coco (Narisha Lawson) are three young actresses waiting for the big break that never seems to come. How can they make enough money to cover rent and buy food?

Enter the feckless Ross (Sam Butters), who has come straight from a drug deal gone wrong that ended up with him shooting the dealer. But that is not all Ross brings. His entry signals a succession of betrayals. In the best tradition of bedroom farce, partners are swapped and misunderstandings proliferate.

Rotten 
Photo: © Kieran Vyas
Rotten Photo: © Kieran Vyas
The fun does not stop there. They decide to target Iris Montague-Willis (Alice Berry), the resident of the flat opposite, for blackmail after observing her in a compromising position with another woman. She was the target of that initial tirade. All three girls resent Iris for being rich, idle, and shallow.

It would be unfair of me to go further into the plot; suffice to say that bodies proliferate as a result of using both conventional and unorthodox weapons.

The mechanics of the narrative are not the only elements that make up our evening’s entertainment. As the story line twists and turns, we also explore some heavyweight themes. The sudden leap in the cost of living exacerbates the girls' poverty, revealing the causes of their desperation, even though it does not excuse their actions.

Rotten 
Photo: © Kieran Vyas
Rotten Photo: © Kieran Vyas
Inevitably, social class issues arise, and this ties in with a mild critique of our political system. Director Rikki Beadle-Blair has done a fine job of welding so many disparate elements into such a tight package.

As long as you do not mind such enthusiastic use of expletives, I recommend that you find somewhere near you that Rotten is playing and go along; it is more than worth the price of a ticket.

Rotten 
Photo: © Kieran Vyas
Rotten Photo: © Kieran Vyas
Mike Tilling saw Josie White's Rotten at
Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough.

Rotten moves to the following venues:
Harrogate Theatre - 9th May
&
Dukes Lancaster - 15th & 16th May