Last night I went to see Wolf Meat by Wildheart and Lyric at the Wardrobe Theatre in Bristol, and then when I got home I sat down to write a review of it. And I couldn’t. It wasn’t that I had bad things to say, far from it. It’s just that I really, really don’t know what to say about it, or at least not on a forum where my mother might read it.
So the first thing I will say about Wolf Meat is that it’s funny. Extremely inappropriately, almost hysterically, cover your mouth and whisper ‘nooooo…’ funny. But I would never, ever take a child, or my mother, or my boss, or a whole list of other people to see it. I’d take most of my friends, because they’re the sort of people who might enjoy physical comedy involving grandson-grandma incest, male nudity and simulated sex. As it says on the flyer ‘Sex, drugs, money… keep it in the family’. This pretty much tells you what you need to know.
There was also a lot of audience participation, some more willing than others. The interesting thing was that almost everyone seemed to know what was expected of them, shouting out helpful instructions and responses and in one case willingly having a disturbing romantic encounter on stage. It did cross my mind that the participants could be plants, but I actually think that the audience in this venue were great, they knew the sort of show that it would be and various members of it came prepared to fully engage in whatever way they could. Even the ones who ended up with a cast member lying on them.
In all honesty there wasn’t much of a plot to the play but it didn’t need much of one: it was all about the characters and their interactions. And bad dancing: if there is anyone who actually reads my reviews regularly they will know I am a huge fan of bad dancing done well (and good dancing done well, but my newfound conversion to ballet fan is a whole other story). The company consists of four actors (and a technician) playing different parts, some well and some appallingly. The appalling is deliberate though, and part of another level of the show, where the actors drop out of character and speak directly to the audience, making us complicit in what is going on.
I genuinely wouldn’t recommend this show to anyone who would blanch at hearing ‘Fuck off!’ bellowed across the room in response to declarations of love, or who might not appreciate the sound effects of someone simulating hammering a hole in their own head. Luckily I went with someone who has a very robust attitude to such things, and we both enjoyed the horrified ‘Noooo!’ moments where there was nothing you could do but laugh at the debauchery portrayed on stage.
So Wildheart and Lyric Theatre Company, I will be watching out for you again. I’d say I’d recommend them to anyone else too, but that wouldn’t be true: I’d recommend them to anyone with an appreciation of the surreal and a strong stomach for jokes that go way too far but still manage to just stay on the right side of funny.
Find out more about Wildheart and Lyric here
Check out what’s on at The Wardrobe Theatre here