Bacon Knees And Sausage Fingers/Wrong Place Wrong Time (Online review)

Bacon Knees And Sausage Fingers/Wrong Place Wrong Time (Online review)

I only came across Alphabetti Theatre’s online content fairly recently (my bad) and saw that they had an eclectic range which encompassed both video and audio. Having tried a couple of the former I wanted to investigate the latter and as I had previously opted for their latest piece of “pandemic content” I thought I’d go back to earlier with two of their audio plays. It turned out there was connective tissue between them in terms of both the writing and the themes.

bacon-kneesI’ve mentioned on here before that I can be a sucker for a good title and Bacon Knees And Sausage Fingers certainly falls into that category. Fortunately, it also has interest beyond that, being a piece that plays with form and has a couple of interesting characters at its centre. When two men fall into casual conversation on Newcastle’s High Level Bridge we are faced with a comic dialogue full of strange twists and turns. This is replayed periodically (at speed) with a bit more added each time to create a fuller picture of their discussion. Interspersed with this are the two characters’ monologues which reveals what lies behind the apparently odd conversation and fleshes out their pasts so that we can make sense of the points they have reached where their lives intersect. It’s an interesting device which keeps the listener hanging on to find out more about the pair and how they were given their strange nicknames – we never learn their real ones.

There’s quite a lot about dogs in this piece – indeed their conversation starts as one notices the other’s schnauzer. It’s in Sausage Finger’s bad books as it has just chewed up his prized collection of VHS cassettes of TV show Sharpe – even so his method of retaliation is rather over the top. Meanwhile it transpires that Bacon Knees races dogs. To clarify, he doesn’t own dogs which he puts through their paces at a racetrack, he literally pits himself against random canines and tries to outrun them. Hence the bacon,

which is used as a means of attracting the competition. This is all good fun but beneath the absurdist comedy is a dark tale about two men who fail to make connections with their fellow humans and who have faced a number of rejections in their lives from family, peers and “the system”. There are strong suggestions that both have some form of learning disabilities and at least one of them is naively baffled about what has happened to him following what the world sees as  child abuse and a spell in prison but which he perceives as a friendly cuddle followed by a period spent in a big house. Co-writers Gary Kitching and Steve Byron also play the two men who are both perpetrators and victims. They form an interesting double act which keeps the listener hooked and keen to see what becomes of these two left field characters.

Moon on a stick_ Tom BarrettChildhood experience and abuse is also the focus of Wrong Place Wrong Time. This is again penned by Byron whose name seems to regularly crop up in association with Alphabetti. In this instance he has acted as a dramatic crucible by pulling together material from creative writing participants in a Crisis Skylight project from 2016. Nicky revisits the school which for her was the source of so much misery and which, along with the systematic neglect and physical and verbal attacks of her family, are responsible for her seething bitterness. The play is basically a brief exploration of the nature versus nurture debate and would provide a useful stimulus towards further discussion. It’s a short piece blisteringly delivered by Paula Penman as Nicky and other characters. The language warning at the start is more than amply justified although vulnerability as well as anger is also evident. As with her winning performance in Pause it is one which draws you in and compels you to listen.

Alphabetti have a a number of other audio plays on offer, including their series of short pieces called Listen Up. I’ll certainly be following that suggestion in the coming weeks.

Bacon Knees And Sausage Fingers and Wrong Place Wrong Time  are available via the Alphabetti Theatre website – click here

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