The set is a wrestling ring, some litter, and some
lockers. The play deals with the subject
of wrestling. It is not about
This masterpiece, which I’m guessing may have been produced
on a limited budget, has, in my opinion, two very minor technical defects. The first is that some of the monologues were
backed by electronic samples that sounded like wind blowing. These were in keeping with the tone of the
monologues, but the monologues could have stood for themselves, and didn’t need
the backing track. The second is that
one of the actors plays two parts. The
two parts he plays are dramatically at odds.
It is obvious how this works, but it would have been neater if a fifth
actor could have been employed. This is
a message to Arts Council England as much as to Red Ladder.
Apart from that nit-picking, this is the tightest dramatic
script I have ever witnessed. The drama
includes anger, hate, frenzy, regret, despair, triumph, and many things,
besides. Every line depicts character, ramps
up dramatic tension, or resolves it. I mean, every line. One of the ways I measure live performance is
by how many times I check the time while it is going on. The time check score for ‘Glory’ is zero.
An even more extreme nit-picker might say that the plot line
about the financial difficulties of the owner might have been recapitulated. I am not saying that.
The play makes you think there are three characters, but
then a fourth turns up, and not as an afterthought.
There are several fight scenes, but the play is not about
fighting. The fight scenes are
masterfully handled, and, I cannot deny, homo-erotic.
The character of Jim Glory occasionally resorts to meta-drama,
and speaks directly to the audience.
This is also well handled and adds to the engagement. The explicit comparison in the dialogue of
Shakespeare’s “Wooden O” with a wrestling ring underpins the parallel between this
piece and Elizabethan drama. It is a
play that intends to give the audience back themselves. It is a play that intends to make the
audience want to be better people, without any trace of preaching. Was this play intended to educate, or to entertain? We will never know, because it did both.
If you are very short of time, then see this production
before all others, because not a single second of it is wasted.
I have deliberately not listed the characters, or the
actors, or given you my opinion of their performances. You will have to go and see it, and decide
all that, for yourself.