The grit and the sleaze are knee deep, and [playwright Mark] Ravenhill gleefully pushes your face in it. The characters -- addicts, dealers, male prostitutes, losers all -- are highly realistic. They’re people you wouldn’t hang out with for five minutes on a street corner and they don’t make very good company in the theatre, at least in Ravenhill’s crude hands; I found them so unsympathetic and unpalatable I left at intermission.
However, there is some terrific acting here under Dave Barton’s graphic direction. Keith Bennett, as a stockbroker/junkie trying to kick the habit, not only nails the role’s Scottish accent to a fare thee well, he makes your skin crawl. Bryan Jennings excels as a gangster with the soul of an artist and the heart of a thug. Jennings has a wonderfully poetic monologue in the first act that delivers the quality of writing I expected but did not find in the rest of the play.
Trauma units have been dispatched to Mr. Young's bedside, where we hope to have him nursed back to some semblance of health in time to review Monkey Wrench's (less graphic, we swear!) next production, Caryl Churchill's DRUNK ENOUGH TO SAY I LOVE YOU, opening October 30th.
In the meantime tickets, of course, remain available for the remainder of SHOPPING AND FUCKING's unpalatably crude run. $20 General / $10 Student, absolutely no one under 17 allowed.
Don't say you haven't been warned.
Reviewed by Jordan Young