Out There On The Fried Meat Ridge Rd.
Reality Rating: 3/5
Fidget Factor: 0.2
Motel Handy Man, Son of God
‘Fifteen Bite-Sized Nuggets About West Virginia’ in the programme informs us that Keyser, is known as the friendliest city in the USA, despite having the highest crime rate in the state. Out There On The Fried Meat Ridge Rd. reveals this peculiar combination of people. Sweet and caring JD is an erratic and wired young ‘red neck’ who lives alone, survives on tuna sandwiches and believes his father is the Son of God, Jesus Christ. West Virginia’s finest meth head, Marleen, tiny thug, Tommy and far from PC, Flip are JDs nearest and dearest. Desperate to widen his circle of friends, JD advertises for a room mate to share his cosy one bedroom motel room – sweaty Mitch is given a dramatic and catastrophic initiation to the gang. Throughout the production we wonder how JD affords to eat without a job or any income, rather than a dark twist offering the answer, we are satisfied with a small miracle.
It wasn’t surprising that Keith Stevenson is the writer behind this play; taking the lead, Stevenson possesses the perfect combination of childish innocence and misunderstood aggression of JD. Equipped with a natural, West Virginian accent, the character of JD is portrayed with great authenticity, whereas some of the other actors struggle with the accents. Robert Moloney plays nervous and nauseated Mitch brilliantly; hair sticky from sweat and eyes bulging with anxiety, Moloney jitters around the motel room before finding his lost courage. Alex Ferns does perform the comic side of Tommy’s character well but shouts loudly throughout the play, an unnecessary volume we’ve suffered in previous performances from Ferns.
Twin beds and a bathroom to the left of the kitchenette make up the entirety of JD’s motel room. Production designer, Simon Scullion has created a convincing space for this play using panelled wood, damp ceilings and littered Mountain Dew. This is the first play to transform Trafalgar Studio 2 in to an end-on space, yet it remains an intimate and close venue. The costume choices are accurate, making it easy to define characters from their aesthetic, however the transfer tattoos with visible edges were a little less effective.
Harry Burton’s direction of Out There On The Fried Meat Ridge Rd. has resulted in a playful and energetic production, essential for this quirky tale to be successful. All the action is contained to a single motel room, yet a whole visual of the outside world is made through the characters and their stories. At points, the interruptions by different characters does become distracting and frustrating, as we are pulled back to a comic story line away from the main agenda, for no justified purpose.
Leave London at the door and bunk up with JD and friends in West Virginia’s finest motel. Expect to giggle and gasp at a life worlds away from your own. Out There On The Fried Meat Ridge Rd. is showing until early June.
Click for Tix: @Trafalgar
▦ Photos – Courtesy of Gavin Watson
Time: 67 Minutes
Running: 2 MAY 17 ► 3 JUN 17
♥ Thank you to Tilly Wilson @ChloeNelkin for the invite
♥ Thank you to Greg for the Tuna Sandwiches