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 The Theatreguide.London Review

The Ritual Slaughter of Gorge Mastromas
Royal Court Theatre Autumn 2013

Dennis Kelly's play is designed to be a biting indictment of the greedy success-at-any-cost culture, but it skims across the surface of its subject so blithely and glibly that it winds up saying far less, and generating far less horror and outrage, than it wants to. 

The almost-three-hour play begins with a half-hour of narration, as the cast of seven tell us about young Gorge, an ordinary boy from an ordinary family whose only distinguishing characteristic is that he is a little nicer and kinder than most. 

We then meet the adult Gorge, a corporate underling lectured by a cut-throat female executive on her lie-cheat-and-steal philosophy, which wins him over so thoroughly that he is soon very very rich, carrying his successfully amoral methodology into his private life by lying his way into a woman's love and going even further when he's in danger of being exposed. 

All this is shown in a string of scenes showing Gorge fully within each stage of his life, with the transitions only provided by the reappearances of the narrative chorus. As a result, we never see how he gets from one step to another, are told rather than shown the devious routes he took, get only glimpses of any effect on others, and never really get inside the man himself.

In some ways this is like the outline of a play that hasn't been written yet all the things we'd really want to see, all the fleshing-out of characters and creating of the world they inhabit, just aren't there. 

What is there is a single-dimensional rise-and-not-really-fall fable, a couple of strong scenes, and the rather entertaining bemused cynicism of the chorus almost but not quite enough to carry the evening if you were willing to settle for so much less than was promised. 

As directed by Vicky Featherstone, Tom Brooke is unable to make Gorge really believable, to connect the man we see in each scene with what we've seen him do before, or to bring us into him enough for us to care. 

Pippa Haywood sinks her teeth into her one showy scene as the businesswoman, but really the entire cast are more entertaining and more successful in creating characterisations when being the narrative chorus than when playing roles in the story.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review - The Ritual Slaughter of Gorge Mastromas  - Royal Court Theatre 2013
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