Printable CopyWOLF LULLABY
Oily Rag Theatre
Holden Street Theatres
Until 12 May 2018

Review by John Wells

There’s something odd about nine year-old Lizzie. Is she an attention-seeker? Is she distressed by her parents’ separation? Is that why she’s been shop-lifting? Or is there something darker about her behaviour? Has she been killing pets? And what’s her connection to the dead toddler? How does she know so much about his death?

Oily Rag Theatre’s first production is Hilary Bell’s mid-1990s dark psychological murder mystery, “Wolf Lullaby”. It is a curious choice. The play poses interesting questions about the nature of evil, and the tug-of-war between honesty and familial loyalty, but Bell’s play feels dated and overly simplistic. To succeed, it requires nuanced and committed acting of the highest quality, and a palpable sense of creeping dread.

Kristin Telfer’s direction is clear and allows the narrative to flow. But she fails to create the sense of dislocation and moral conflict that the play needs. The performances are solid and there are some compelling moments of tension. However, the acting is inconsistent and lacks strong character detail. Some scenes are excellent and bristle with tense discord, but others are slow and lacklustre. The varying quality of the performances undermines the momentum of this production.

Oily Rag has indeed created pared-down theatre, with minimal sets and little adornment. This suits the play. However, more atmospheric details with lighting and music could have provided a more layered and interesting production.

This is a creditable first production from a new company.