Written by Chris Fittock
Directed by Graeme Maley
Presented by Liverpool’s New Writing Theatre
Unity Theatre (20th - 27th May 2006)

Reviewed by Helen Grey

I look around the foyer of the Unity theatre and become increasingly worried that the other audience members are all dressed in waterproofs and hats. The reason for their attire becomes increasingly obvious as we are led out of the warmth of the Unity into the cold and wet evening. We are taken around the back of the Unity to the JMU courtyard and promptly handed some brandy to keep us warm. The usher shows us to some shaky looking camping chairs and asked us to sit down - and not to use any umbrellas.

A young man dressed in bloodstained clothes is sitting on a small milking stool intently sharpening a knife. Directly opposite him is an open door covered in white translucent material and the outline of a woman can be seen just through it. The scene is set for the debut play from the Liverpool writer Chris Fittock.

‘Red’ is a love story, with a difference. It looks at the rawness and intensity of love and the consequences it can have. The very reasonably priced programme (which is also the script) sums up the play beautifully. 'Red is a remote boy in a removed land, shredded by his war and his lovers Val and Amy - three people savagely in love. It’s the unseen, the uncontrollable that is slowly killing them all.'

This play makes no apologies for being brutal and uncomfortable. Fittock has set it in a non-specific time and doesn’t offer up neat biographies of the three characters. This forces the audience to work on the play and attempt to figure out what is happening in front of them. The two main characters - Red (Mark Wood) and Val (Lucia Cox) - have an extreme and transfixing relationship that explodes on stage.

The only criticism I have is that the strong language used seemed a little unnecessary at times. But overall it is refreshing to see a play that uses graphic images to tell a story rather than simply for shock tactics. Fittock’s take on the destructiveness of love is captivating and well worth the price of the ticket. One word of warning: take a flask of tea and a blanket.

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