Pinter meets npower in ‘absurdist mystery’

The Body Under the Stairs is the final part of a trilogy (the others being Marmite and Plughole) written by Cloud Nine’s artistic director, Peter Mortimer.

For those unfamiliar with the venue, the Low Lights Tavern in North Shields, it is a very intimate theatre.

The audience can see the actors breathing – or not in the case of ‘the body’.

Mortimer’s ‘absurdist, mystery’ is Pinter meets Npower but the characters of Smith and Hilda (played by Dylan Mortimer and Jill Dellow) are nevertheless believable.

The gasman, played by Robbie Lee Hurst, is at turns menacing then linguistically verbose. ‘Your wife is stone cold dead by the Hoover and you are considering credit ratings,’ he tells Smith at one point.

He also appears to have a vicarious enjoyment of the details of the alleged murder.

All three appear to have the psychological profile to have ‘done it’.

However, the actual identity of the ‘body’ is ambiguous.

In scene one the audience is led to believe it is Hilda, in scene two, Smith.

In the final, very funny scene between Hilda and Smith, it comes as no surprise that the body is that of the gasman.

But which gasman is it? And why did the gasman call anyway when the house doesn’t have a gas supply?

An entertaining evening which plays to the strengths of Peter Mortimer’s dexterous wordplay and the unrestrained performance of the actors.

The final performance of The Body Under the Stairs was set to take place on Thursday July 25, at 7.30pm at North Shields library.