Review Roundup: THE RITUAL SLAUGHTER OF GORGE MASTROMAS
If you could lie without flinching, corrupt without caring and succeed at all costs - how far could you go...how much could you make? The Ritual Slaughter of Gorge Mastromas is Dennis Kelly's Royal Court Theatre debut. His recent credits include the RSC production of Matilda the Musical, which won Olivier, Evening Standard, Critics Circle Awards and transferred to the West End and Broadway, where he won a Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical. Other credits includes The Gods Weep for the RSC at Hampstead Theatre, Orphans, at the Traverse Theatre as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival before transferring to the Birmingham Rep and Soho Theatre, My Teacher's A Troll at National Theatre of Scotland, After the End at the Bush and on tour, Love and Money at Royal Exchange, Manchester and Young Vic andTaking Care of Baby at Hampstead Theatre. On television, he wrote Pulling on BBC 3 and most recently the six part original drama Utopia on Channel 4.
Artistic Director of the Royal Court Vicky Featherstone directs. The Ritual Slaughter of Gorge Mastromas will be the first full production that she will direct in her first season at the helm. She will also direct Abi Morgan's The Mistress Contract in 2014.
Let's see what the critics had say...
Charles Spencer, Telegraph: The pity is that with the help of Roald Dahl and a brilliant performance from Bertie Carvel, Kelly created a truly unforgettable villain in the terrifying headmistress, Miss Trunchbull. Gorge seems downright dull in comparison. The cast perform with dogged efficiency but despite his starling appearance - he resembles an anorexic Mr Punch - Tom Brooke fails to either chill or thrill as the dastardly villain of the piece, and the sense of weary waste that consumes him at the end feels like Macbeth without the poetry. The supporting characters are little more than ciphers and the best I can say of Vicky Featherstone's production is that it is lovely when it stops.
Michael Billington, Guardian: Featherstone's debut production puts the text before any display of directorial virtuosity. Tom Brooke, with a profile that suggests an attenuated Mr Punch and eyes that frequently signal helpless bewilderment, vividly conveys both the extraordinariness and the inner emptiness of the unstoppable Gorge. And there is sharp, well-defined support from Pippa Haywood as a svelte City shark, Kate O'Flynn as the victim of Gorge's affections and Alan Williams as a weakly virtuous man in a world of financial predators. It's not a play that scores a swift knockout blow, but it registers a hard-won victory on points.
Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard: Despite the intensity of Brooke and poised work around him (notably from relative newcomers Kate O'Flynn and Joshua James), I found it hard to care. Yet this curate's egg of a play reinforces the impression that Featherstone's tenure will deliver surprise and variety.
Michael Coveney, Whatsonstage: The play was premiered in Frankfurt last year, which is odd, and a further indication of how so many of our playwrights have taken the German schilling. The play would have been different, and better, if aimed directly at the Royal Court audience.
Paul Taylor, Independent: Lantern-jawed and luminously gaunt like an escapee from a Bruegel painting, Tom Brooke is wonderfully compelling as the title's hero and Featherstone's skilful direction brings out all the creepy, slow-paced horror and queasy comedy in the encounters (mostly duologues) that demonstrate the diabolically deceitful lengths to which Gorge will go on his way up - and his trapped, tragic discovery that not everyone can be bought on the downward path into a hollow old age of loneliness and denial.