The independent scene in Sydney has been a bit rattled lately. With important venues like B Sharp and the Old Fitz falling by the way side, there’s been a sense of fear about where future artists would present their shows. But where there are artists desperate to make work, it is inevitable that venues will emerge for them to fill and the Old 505 Theatre, with its handy three minutes from central location, is beginning to step up as a place for independent theatre to thrive. With its small capacity and intimate feel, it’s a perfect place for theatre makers to get their work up close and personal with audiences.
A Butcher Of Distinction benefits from this closeness, shoving the dank pub basement setting, brought to ridiculously detailed life by designer Dylan James Tonkin, in our faces. Hugo (Liam Nunan) and Hartley (Heath Ivey-Law) have come to this basement in search of their father’s fortune. They’ve been brought up in country aristocracy, safe from the reality of modern life, but after the passing of their parents, they come to London in the hope finding a future in the place where their father often travelled. It quickly becomes apparent that their vision of their father is very different from reality when they meet Teddy (Paul Hooper), his former associate.
James Dalton’s production is tight and well crafted, overcoming some logic problems in the script with impressive performances. Nunan and Ivey-law have a strong brotherly bond and we very quickly become attached to their misguided natures. Hooper is suitably repulsive, but also shows his range, bringing some legitimate emotion when required.
With its slamming together of upper-class British ideals with a seedy, gory underworld, this show won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s guaranteed to inspire a visceral reaction.
**** out of five stars
BY SIMON BINNS
A Butcher Of Distinction is showing at the Old 505 Theatre until May 26.