Wet House

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Wet House

Wet House

Posted: 20 Sep 2013

By Paddy Campbell

Live Theatre, Newcastle

19 September

 

 

Paddy Campbell’s first full-length play is set in a hostel for homeless alcoholics, a place apparently known as a ‘Wet House.’ Campbell has an inside track on this, having once worked in such an establishment. Given his explanation in the programme that he’d studied sculpture at university, there seems to be something of the playwright in Andy (Riley Jones), the fresh-out-of-uni character whose new job at the ‘Wet House’ is the vehicle through which the drama unfolds.

Unsurprisingly in a first major work, Campbell relies on a basic formula of light and shade as tragedy intertwines with comedy. Nonetheless the script at times is as sharp as the syringes discarded by the residents.

Characters that in the early scenes seem to be caricatures soon develop and for that Campbell and director Max Roberts have a powerful six strong cast to thank.  Bully/carer Mike (Chris Connel) and drunkard Dinger (Joe Caffrey) share the bulk of the funniest lines in scenes that sometimes evoke the menace of Pinter’s The Birthday Party, and David Nellist as the paedophile Spencer produces a performance that invites the audience to feel compassion for a character who has lurked in the darkest shadows.

Eva Quinn in her first full-length production at Live is convincing as the promiscuous Kerry whose moods go up and down as frequently as her underwear while Jackie Lye, who debuted with Live in the first of the four decades it marks this year, is the vulnerable but genuine carer who enables you to leave the theatre with a little bit of hope still intact.

The prospect of a night watching a play about a hostel for alcoholics might drive you to drink but it is an enjoyable if ultimately sobering evening. Wet House runs at the Live Theatre until 5 October.

 

Rob Mason

 

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