Dennis Kelly's Ritual Slaughter of Gorge Mastromas 'chilling'
Twisted, darkly witty morality fable from writer of Matilda the Musical opens at Royal Court
What you need to know Dennis Kelly's new play, The Ritual Slaughter of Gorge Mastromas, has opened at the Royal Court, London. Kelly is best known for the Tony award-winning book for Matilda the Musical and the TV series Utopia.
The Ritual Slaughter of Gorge Mastromas is the life story of Gorge, an ordinary man who becomes a corporate drone before selling his soul for power and success.
Vicky Featherstone directs her first full production as the new artistic director of the Royal Court. Tom Brooke stars as Gorge. Until 19 October.
What the critics like
The latest stage work by the strikingly versatile Kelly is "a twisted, darkly witty morality fable about the evils of rampant, greed-is-good capitalism", says Paul Taylor in The Independent. Tom Brooke is wonderfully compelling as the title's hero and Featherstone's skillful direction brings out all the creepy, slow-paced horror and queasy comedy.
The play's unexpected central message is less about selfish capitalism than the notion that evil is not heroic or spectacular, but the gradual hollowing out of humanity, says Libby Purves in The Times. Brooke's "brilliantly controlled physical and verbal expressiveness, shows that with chilling perfection".
Kelly's greatly enjoyable play is "a mix of Faustian morality play and updated Peer Gynt about the hollowness of a rapacious adventurer", says Michael Billington in The Guardian. Brooke vividly conveys both the extraordinariness and the inner emptiness of the unstoppable Gorge.
What they don't like
It's surprising, given that Dennis Kelly wrote the book for that glorious musical Matilda, that this play is a "punishing dud", says Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph. With the help of Roald Dahl, Kelly created a truly unforgettable villain in the terrifying headmistress, Miss Trunchbull – but his Gorge seems downright dull in comparison, and at almost three hours, the play feels interminable. ·