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26th July 2012

The Lament of Swordy’s Swell!

The Lament of Swordy Well- Review

Five out of five stars

The Lament of Swordy Well weaved a dark tale of corruption and murder, centered around Swordy Well abattoir and its deluded dreamer boss Joseph Orty. There’s suspicion and deceit in the air at the failing abattoir. Joseph Orty has left his family home for another woman, but why is his sleeping bag bundled up in his office filing cabinet? There are talks of merging Swordy Well with a larger company from aggressive manager Carlton, and can good-natured Giles fulfill his love for Delilah Orty whilst keeping her father’s secret from her at the same time? The expertly woven story brought its sinister strands together all at the same moment for a brilliantly bloody climax.

The direction was spot on. The abattoir noises, slaughterers with cow masks on and the audience being herded into the auditorium through metal barriers made for an unsettling and effective start to the play. A personal highlight was the repeated sequence of stylized, almost physical wind-up doll slaughtering movements from all characters bar Joseph, whilst creepily upbeat music played and the stage was saturated in red light. This conveyed perfectly the sinister underbelly that lay beneath Swordy Well from very early on and got continuously eerier as the show progressed.

The acting in it should also be highly commended. All performances were very well characterized and together were a fantastic ensemble. But my favourite performance came from Verity Mullan Wilkinson (Delilah), whose delightful innocence and unconditional love for her father had me incredibly mooved.

Josh Allot’s writing too deserves much praise. It was witty, fast-paced and frequent spurts of John Clare references (the title of the play itself comes from the Clare poem: ‘The Lament of Swordy Well’) created a hilarious character in pretentious and sad Orty. The abattoir setting was extremely well researched also.  True talent.


The Lament of Swordy Well was performed as part of the MIFTAs festival.


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