Written by Mark Ravenhill, Directed by Michael Grandage
Liverpool Playhouse (18th-22nd April 2006)
The Cut is a challenging, complex and chilling play set in a tyrannical
regime, about the alienation of people from one another, the haves and
have nots, and the ever-increasing neurosis within mankind.
One of Britain’s most distinguished actors, Ian McKellen is outstanding
in the role of Paul, who is responsible for administering the torture
- in the form of the cut - to the lower classes in society. He is on stage
throughout the ninety minutes of the production - written by Mark Ravenhill
(Shopping and Fucking) and ably directed by Michael Grandage - which is
split into three separate parts without an intermission.
The first section involves Paul agonising about his profession and the
meaninglessness of what he does. He hates himself and what led him to
this situation. He wants to shoot himself but is persuaded not to by John
(Jimmy Akingbola), who bizarrely wants to have the cut.
He then suffers further anguish when he returns and enjoys little comfort
from his neurotic and frigid wife Susan (Deborah Findlay). She seems to
spend most of her time taking pills and lying on a bed in a darkened room.
This scene starkly portrays the lovelorn relationships often endured
by couples who are stuck in a rut and have little meaningful or fresh
to say to one another. Findlay is compelling, invariably using an eerily
monotone voice when speaking to Paul, who constantly tells her he loves
her, without receiving any response of any kind from his wife. She is
bored with him and feels cut off from life in general.
The final scene shows Paul consigned to prison under a new regime. He
is visited by his son Stephen (Tom Burke), who - in a similar vein to
Susan - offers him little compassion or love.
He has no more purpose in life - he is just waiting for the final cut
to spare him further torment.