BWW Review: WARPED, VAULT Festival
Aaron and Matty worship Ronnie and Reggie Kray, the criminals who meddled with celebrities and had East London under their thumb in the 60s. They mould their lives around the twins and strive to talk, walk, and dress like them.
Martin Malcolm's play Warped challenges the idolisation of the brothers, showing how toxic masculinity and an aptitude to be easily influenced inevitably lead to irreversible consequences. Directed by Russell Lucas, the piece is somewhat messy in its intentions.
The relationship between the fanboys is certainly compelling and it starts a conversation surrounding the dynamics established among young men. Aaron (Alex Boxall) suffocates weak and gullible Matty (James Ferguson), eventually turning him into a dangerous machine with the supernatural intervention of the Krays themselves.
Malcolm paints a specific power exchange, depicting violence of various kinds and two boys who are energetically following the wrong role models. He briefly touches on the alleged rape of Matty at the hand of his friend but the event isn't explored enough to make a lasting statement, as are other themes like sexuality and family.
Boxall and Ferguson embody the characters well with Russell's direction, displaying subtle physical work and chemistry. Their contribution unfortunately doesn't, however, sufficiently peak the crowd's interested and keep it keen. The thin traverse stage with props arranged in a long line give the show an unfinished look and lead the performers to jump over them, shattering their flow slightly.
At this stage, Warped tries to use violence and threats as shock value without actually analysing the matters in question. The play might benefit from a longer running time to better introduce the mythology behind the Kray twins as well as to give more breath to character development and exploration of the subject.