The Cut

Written by Mark Ravenhill, Directed by Michael Grandage
Donmar Warehouse
Liverpool Playhouse (18th-22nd April 2006)

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

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.

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