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Review: Necrophilia at Limelight on Oxford

By Priscilla Issa

Which is more embarrassing: discovering that your co-worker enjoys taking a no.2 in public, probably no more than 100 metres away from his house;  bumping into your co-worker at an adult store holding urethral plugs in their hands; or, having your employee discover that you like to use those same urethral plugs on the corpses they “look after” at the local mortuary? I’ll let you decide.

Necrophilia was one fast-paced fetish rollercoaster, with surprises at every turn. It tracks the lives of three employees who, amidst their romantic entanglements, discover some taboo facts about each other. This black comedy challenges the audience’s perception of what constitutes the limits of empathy among the “sick”, ideas about sexuality including the extent to which kink lines can be crossed, as well as questions of morality surrounding death, whilst also giving the audience plenty to laugh about.

In fact, the opening scene between characters, Darren and Mark, cleverly and humorously sets the tone for what would be the sometimes adorable, sometimes laughable, sometimes whimsical relationships between the characters. I mean, what is more brilliant that slapping the audience in the face with a faeces joke?

As the play unfolds, the literary genius of Lincoln Vickery forces the audience down a gruesome and harrowing road. The audience is forced to ask questions like: If the person I adore has a fetish seen as morally repugnant, could I continue to love them? To what extent do I feel comfortable disclosing my own desires to the person I love? If I noticed my co-worker – who loves my best mate - doing something out of the confines of their professional duty, would my moral compass be extended so far as to convince myself to record them in the act (all for the sake of my best mate)? 

These moral dilemmas were expertly and intricately woven together in a complex and believable script. The short, sharp lines, the overlapping dialogue, the imagery, the suspenseful beats, and the detailed stage blocking made for an exciting and dynamic production. Vickery’s work with Jack Scott, who played the caring and morally-just Darren, was nothing shy of commendable. Scott played the cross-buffoon/morally-just employee with great spirit and charisma. Emma O’Sullivan provided a much-needed release from the high tension in her roles as Emily and Patty, both of whom are characters merely going about their business as best they can in this, sometimes, corrupt world. It was the performances of Adam Sollis (Mark) and Ariadne Sgouros (Amanda) that really sealed the deal for me. Sgouros played the “sick” and troubled Amanda with a great deal of soul, revealing a character rife with guilt and secrecy. This character can easily be played two-dimensionally, causing audiences to despise Amanda’s actions from the outset. Sgouros, however, adds numerous layers – from guilt and secrecy, to sadness, to frustration, confusion, and, most believably, her depiction as an ordinary woman just looking for a partner.  Sgouros’s performance is enhanced by Sollis’s articulate, impassioned and lively performance of Mark. It was the final scene, coupled with dim lighting and a warped rendition of the Bee Gees’ smash “Stayin’ Alive”, that showcased these two actors’ abilities.  Mark reveals his equally trouble past and Amanda empathises as tears stream down her sorrowful face.

The ultimate question Vickery seems to leave the audience with is: Is anyone entirely normal; or, are well all, on some level, as messed up as each other?

Necrophilia is one performance worth catching. Congratulations one and all! 

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All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.


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