A somewhat dated living space meets the audience as it files in for Funeral Meats, with stained walls and front door. Whether it is a metaphor for the state of mind of its main occupant, Luke (Cradeux Alexander) is ambiguous, particularly as it is his sister Laura (Ramona Von Pusch) whose state of mind becomes something of a concern. There’s nothing new about a character who becomes mentally unstable in a play, of course – Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire comes to mind – but the breakdown, the show’s critical incident, when it comes, is rather sudden and unexpected.
Barbara Long (Helen Adie) is at Luke’s house as one of several guests for his mother’s wake; Barbara was a friend of the deceased. Completing the quartet is Felix (Luca Pusceddu), the ‘ex’ of two of the other three characters (and possibly some off-stage characters too). With Luke and Laura themselves at loggerheads for reasons I couldn’t quite follow, aside from typical sibling rivalry, the whole setup is ripe for an explosion of emotions. It is intriguing to note, then, that all four characters are remarkably contained. Granted, this may have been out of respect for the dead matriarch, but even so, I couldn’t help wondering why Luke would express such displeasure with Laura, with such vitriolic vocabulary as he does, in such a nonchalant manner. Something didn’t quite add up.
It’s details of this nature that maintain interest in this otherwise borderline sluggish production. The characters are on speaking terms throughout, which may seem odd given the barely disguised hostility (even an apology from one character to another is flatly refused). It would have been an even shorter play, however, had a more naturalistic walking away taken place. But each scene ends abruptly, including the final one, and in between there are gaps left in the narrative, which left me wondering what happened in the intervening time periods.
It is not feasible to expect a performance in real-time, even the first scene is listed in the programme as being at 7:00pm and the last one at 12:00 midnight. The audience has the benefit, at least, of seeing events unfold in chronological order, and all contained within one room, which made the scene changes very smooth. Character development is sporadic and stilted, however, and too much is left unrevealed – I thought an off-stage fight would have spiced things up if it were on-stage. On the other hand, the subtlety in this production is, I suppose, better than a screamathon.
Review by Chris Omaweng
The term ‘global village’ to describe today’s world has its shortcomings, revealed in the relationship between Luke and Felix not working out, mostly because, as far as I could deduce, of substantial variations in different countries with regards to gay rights. This could have been fleshed out a little more, especially given that this production forms part of the King’s Head’s ‘Queer Festival’. An intriguing show that would benefit from being expanded to a two-act play.
Funeral Meats, a one-act drama
Award-winning company LUXE proudly presents the world premiere of Funeral Meats, a drama
exploring the legacies of same-sex marriage, fame and inherited mental illness. Brother and
sister reunite at their mother’s funeral; while the alcohol flows, a play saturated with
recrimination, revelation and revenge overflows.
Featuring Helen Adie, Cradeaux Alexander, and Luca Pusceddu.
8-12th Aug at 9:30pm, 13th at 5:30pm (running time approx 1 hour)
The King’s Head Theatre: 115 Upper St, London N1 1QN