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Debris

first_img4/5 BURTON TAYLORTUESDAY-SATURDAY, 7.30PM ‘Babies grow in rubbish,’ states Michael matter-of-factly, explaining how he found a baby on a trash heap, named it Debris and began to care for it. Unlike much of the dusty drama that finds its way onto the stages of Oxford theatres, Debris is a modern play written in 2004 by up-and-coming playwright David Kelly. The play explores the lives of dysfunctional siblings Michael and Michelle, who have a drunken, abusive father and a dead mother. Debris portrays people whose lives are thwarted by their difficult and dysfunctional surroundings. Director Will Maynard has chosen a difficult play, full of lyrical flights and unexpected imagery, and navigates it brilliantly. Despite sometimes tipping into the bizarre or sentimental, the overall result is an intelligently directed, insightfully acted play. This is even more impressive given the inexperienced cast. Michael, played by Matt Malby, has all the nervous, gangly energy of a teenage boy. He really comes alive when discovering the baby; this is awkward teenage tenderness at its most powerful, a deep instinct to protect coming through excellently. Michelle, played by Sarah Milne-Das, is a more balanced character and, although sometimes bland, has flights of anger and fear which are both believable and passionate. Audiences could be bemused by lines like ‘Plant child sucking death through a potato tongue,’ and although Milne-Das does her best, sometimes the bizarre imagery doesn’t quite work. What does, though, is the pair’s poignant relationship as siblings, caught between love and hatred as only siblings can be. This could have been a soap-opera abusive-home scenario, but instead, the play becomes a moving, often surprising, tale of the love and tenderness which can struggle out from tiny cracks in rubbish heaps. By Elen Griffithslast_img read more