A Butcher of Distinction

9 May

You’ve got to be cruel to be kind. Kind of weird, that is.

Cruelty is the vice par excellence of our society. It has not always been thought such an evil. The medievals routinely used it to ‘purify’ souls.

Yet for us moderns, cruelty’s just plain sick.

But still it remains.

And so every progressive talks of how we must diminish it.

And so we desperately try to explain its causes.

A Butcher of Distinction by Rob Hayes is a very rich night of theatre; very funny, and deeply thought provoking.

It explores the sources of cruelty.

Is it simply that ‘they do evil who have evil done to them’?

Or does cruelty stem from a more deep seated lack of empathy? Is there an almost institutionalized damming of our ability to see others as completely human? Are we living through an Ice Age of the imagination, that leaves us frozen in our isolation, unable to truly connect?

Photo by Lucy Parakhina

Photo by Lucy Parakhina

Teddy, played brilliantly by Paul Hooper, is a rough tough pimp. To him, people are commodities. The play also asks ‘What are the consequences of this attitude?’

This is dark, dark comedy, directed dazzlingly by James Dalton. His cast (Liam Nunan, Heath Ivey-Law and Paul Hooper) deliver top performances; sharp, precise and bitingly funny.

Which brings me to my final point; if cruelty is such a burning issue in our society, it must be presented on our stages. But how is this best done?

A Butcher of Distinction is not a piece of naturalism. (Would we want it to be?)

But what can humour do with such emotionally charged situations as the ones presented in this play?

Laughter sparks us to think. It makes us glory and delight in our ability to connect.

And in connection is the death of cruelty.

Veronica Kaye

A Butcher of Distinction by Rob Hayes

Old 505 Theatre til 26th May


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