Experimental theatre company Wildheart & Lyrics’ take on the tale of Red Riding Hood is very, very different to the fairy story we’ve all grown up with. In Wolf Meat, Red Riding Hood is “Red”, an undercover detective not exactly in plainclothes (in fact in a very revealing, tight-fitting red basque) masquerading as a prostitute. “Grandma” is an ex-beauty queen drug dealer and “Wolfie” is her grandson who has a drug factory manufacturing drugs for Grandma and may be having an incestuous relationship with not only her but also his sister “Luna” who whilst not in the original story, has a big part to play in this one.
During the sixty-minute piece, there’s not only sex, drugs and a little rock ‘n’ roll in the guise of some rap music, but there’s also full frontal nudity (which nearly caused a nasty eye injury for one of the actors during the performance I saw), violent sex with a laptop computer, swearing and the previously mentioned possible incest! To describe this as a surreal piece of theatre would be an understatement – this is meta-surrealism!
The evening starts with two “old ladies” sitting in the auditorium interacting with the audience as they come in. The two eventually make their slow way to the stage and the performance begins in earnest when they’re joined by the two other members of the cast. There’s a lot more audience
participation during the piece and if you’re of a nervous disposition, I’d avoid sitting in the front row – although I’m not sure hiding will protect you if they decide to pick on you! The cast don’t just breach the fourth wall – they attack it with a wrecking ball and demolish it.
Wolf Meat is a mixture of slapstick, music, sex, sound effects, silly jokes, dolls, singing, sex, drama, horror, body parts, death and even more sex! The cast of four, Mella Faye Punchard, Oliver Harrison, Carla Espinoza and Katie Grace Cooper are skilfully directed by Mick Barnfather and his direction ensures the pace doesn’t let up for a moment – it’s an assault on the eyes and ears that certainly isn’t for the prudish.
This is a perfect fit for the always adventurous Theatre Utopia in Croydon where Artistic Director Jamal Chong is putting on some interesting and often ground-breaking productions. Wolf Meat has already been a big success around the country and when it leaves Croydon, it goes on tour to Brighton, Bournemouth, Birmingham, Bristol and the Pleasance Theatre in London – and there’s talk of it going to Edinburgh for the festival later in the year where it’ll be the perfect fit.
It’s impossible to put Wolf Meat into any specific box so I won’t try. It’s a crazy, anarchic, surreal piece of theatre but most importantly, it’s a whole lot of fun.
Review by Alan Fitter
Wolf Meat is an irreverent, wickedly funny take on the Red Riding Hood tale, set in Grandma’s Croydon drug den. This compelling new show from Wildheart & Lyric brings slapstick, absurdist humour and live music to a world of dirty deals and mistaken identity. Having enjoyed sell-out runs in both Brighton and London, the production now tours the UK for the first time. Join Grandma, Red, Wolfie and Luna for a raucous ride that subverts well-known characters and turns morals…
February 1 :7:30 pm – February 4 :8:30 pm
Theatre Utopia, 1 Matthews Yard, off Surrey Street Market
Croydon, CR0 1FF United Kingdom