Spotlight: Slag Heap

Charlie Gorrill

Anton Dudley's mid-'90s raver drama opens with Ashley (Amber Bjork) and Dave (Joseph Papke), a pair of youthful prostitutes, leaning against a wall debating the merits of various public loos as places to ply their trade, and whether Oasis is proper background music for shagging (I must weigh in with a hearty no). This pair is distinctly small-time, until the glossier streetwalker Fran (Zoe Benston) drags Dave along for a lucrative three-way in a limousine, sparking visions of the good life. Soon enough we see Fran at home. And while she is on easy street compared to Ashley and Dave, her reality comprises a filthy flat and a layabout, booze- and drug-inundated sister named Donna (Jennifer J. Phillips). Sis sets about seducing a Pakistani delivery boy from the shop down the road, and things head south. Each act in Dudley's scenario feels like a separate play involving the same characters. After the intermission, then, Dave has moved from Manchester to London, and is the resident pretty boy in the basement of a rave club, where he also lives. Papke creates a complicated portrait of a guileless young man with a seeming faith that his good nature will make things work out. Of course they don't, not at all, although the reappearance of Fran livens things up. Benston turns in a fine performance as well, infusing her character with more intelligence and perception than those around her--for all the good it finally does her. The action grows kinkier and kinkier, druggier and druggier--and then blood spills. Ultimately, this tawdry, dissolute drama is as vivid as they come while chugging along the road to disaster.

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