Written by Luis Gómez Romero and Desmond Manderson
Directed by Caroline Stacey
The Street Theatre production
The Street Theatre to 25 June
Reviewed by Len Power 18 June 2022
Described in the publicity as ‘part thriller, part black comedy, part magic realism’, the play ‘Twenty Minutes With The Devil’ takes us on a journey with three people stuck in a seedy motel room together while awaiting either death or salvation.
Arrested on a lonely desert road by two highway police officers, El Ticho is a latin businessman and drug lord who plays cat and mouse mental games with his captors while handcuffed and chained to the motel bed.
Angela is a by-the-book police officer who uses bravado to cover self-doubts about her policing career. Her partner, Romulo, is a police officer struggling to do a job he no longer believes in. Both are ripe to cave in to the corruption they are witnessing around them.
The motel setting is reminiscent of the recapture of real-life Mexican drug lord, El Chapo, in 2016.
Director, Caroline Stacey, and her Street Theatre team have given this world premiere a striking production. P.J. Williams is very believable as the drug lord, El Ticho. In spite of his sordid appearance, he brings a dangerous charm to the role that is very seductive.
|Joanna Richards (Angela), Raoul Craemer (Romulo) and P.J. Williams (El Ticho)|
Raoul Craemer plays the role of the police officer, Romulo, as if teetering on the edge of a nervous breakdown. While his character is not likeable, Craemer impressively wins our sympathy for him. Joanna Richards, as the officious in-charge police officer, Angela, builds the stages of self-doubt in her character very realistically.
|Joanna Richards (Angela) and P.J. Williams (El Ticho)|
Designed by Imogen Keen, the highly detailed tacky and run-down motel room from hell becomes a fourth character in the play. At times the walls even come alive as if the whole world is involved and holding its breath while watching.
The lighting design by Antony Hateley is highly detailed and effective as is the sound design by James Tighe. These technical wizards add so much to the overall atmosphere of this production.
While it’s an impressive production, the writers have not completely reconciled the mix of thriller, comedy and message.
The inner monologues by the characters interrupt the flow of the play and, while the intention seems to be to remind us that the drug problem is international and goes way beyond this motel room, the poetic language given to these characters who, in the story scenes have no poetry in them, is often awkward and pretentious.
In addition, a supposed shooting and its aftermath seems to be suggestive of similar set ups in ‘Halloween’-type horror movies. If this was meant to be comedy, it does not work.
Overall, ‘Twenty Minutes With The Devil’ is a strong play with a disturbing message that has been given a handsome production by the Street Theatre. With its deficiencies overcome, it has the potential to become a play worthy of wide attention.
Photos by Creswick Collective
Photos by Creswick Collective
Len Power's reviews are also broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 in the ‘Arts Cafe’ and ‘Arts About’ programs and published in his blog 'Just Power Writing' at https://justpowerwriting.blogspot.com/.