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 The Theatreguide.London Review


Chav Scum Kills God
Courtyard Theatre Autumn 2008

A disconcertingly mature-looking hoodie (a bit of miscasting perhaps?) wakes up dead in a not-too-uncomfortable Hell and is recruited by his father and other rebels to suicide-bomb Heaven, mainly because the damned have to settle for generic toiletries while Paradise is stocked with posh brands.

That is possibly the best joke in what author-director Drew Davies labels 'a devilish new comedy,' but which raised nary a titter from the small audience. (A more typical joke is the revelation that the character's name is actually Chaverston Scumthorpe)

On his mission our hero encounters the devil, who's on walkabout disguised as a street hustler and oddly unskilled card shark. In Heaven, which looks exactly like Hell, he discovers that God chooses a different manifestation daily, and today has taken the form of the would-be bomber's girlfriend, who was alive the last time he saw her.

Up to this point playwright Davies could be credited for a little originality in his offbeat conception of the Afterlife, since it's unlikely that he was aware of Bruce Jay Friedman's 1970 Steambath, in which Limbo is a Turkish Bath and God a Puerto Rican towel attendant, or perhaps even Shaw's Man And Superman, with the idea that Hell is a lot more fun than Heaven.

But then he gives up all pretence to comedy as the play morphs awkwardly into murky philosophy. When the chav asks his divine girlfriend why bad things happen in the world, she has no real answer, and the evening ends with the actor struggling his way through an extended metaphysical monologue that is nearly incomprehensible.

I'll do him and most of the rest of the cast the favour of not naming them, only to note that Jonathan Hansler does give the devil some attractively raffish energy.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review - Chav Scum Kills God - Courtyard 2008