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Theatre review: Mongrel Island 
2nd-Aug-2011 10:51 pm
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Steve Marmion follows his production of Realism with Ed Harris' Mongrel Island which shares much of that play's cast, as well as a theme of mundane reality invaded by wild fantasy. Sadly it's not a patch on Anthony Neilson's play, where the goings-on were both wildly entertaining and utterly familiar. What is familiar here is the office set-up, where Marie (Robyn Addison) works with Elvis and Only Joe (Shane Zaza and Simon Kunz) and does insane amounts of overtime in the hope she'll be allowed a few days off at the end of the month to help move her dead mother's belongings. The tedium of office life is recreated rather too accurately - very soon I felt as trapped as I ever did in an office myself, and as the clock on the wall moves only when it feels like it, so in the audience time drags as well - a quick glance at my watch when I expected about 45 minutes to have passed, revealed that in fact only 20 had.

The scenes of dark fantasy take a long time to get going and, with the notable exception of the too-brief appearances by Joanna Holden's hobbit-like cleaning lady Pippop, aren't that interesting when they do. There's excellent performances from Addison, Zaza, Kunz and Holden, and an utterly bizarre one from Golda Rosheuvel, and there are flashes of brilliance - a running joke about disappearing hole punchers has a heartbreaking payoff - but all in all this is the longest 90 minutes I've spent in the theatre for some time.

Mongrel Island by Ed Harris is booking until the 6th of August at Soho Theatre.
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