'A Butcher of Distinction' or 'I'd like a pound of flesh, please.'

'A Butcher of Distinction', Rob Hayes
King's Head Theatre, Thursday 14th April 
Written for Time Out

Michael Gould as Teddy, Ciaran Owens as Hartley, Sam Swann as Hugo. Photo Credit: Richard Hubert Smith

It's not everyday you see a man dressed in a sheep carcass, attack a pimp. But then Rob Hayes is no ordinary writer. His new play 'A Butcher of Distinction', relocated to The King's Head after the The Cock Tavern's abrupt closure, is sharp and surprising. It's fiercely funny too, although director Ned Bennett's admiration for Hayes' humour does diminish the dark undertones.

The premise sees two country lads, butcher Hartley and goat herder Hugo, reluctantly travel to London following their father's death. As they rifle through their family home, patching together an inheritance, local pimp Teddy bursts in. He holds the family secrets and as the truth unfolds, the brothers become embroiled in their father's dark past. 

Don't get too comfortable, fellas
Yet, for all the finely crafted comic dialogue and strikingly surreal moments, the plot is sketchy and the tone confused. Loop holes emerge and one starts to wonder why these two trapped brothers don't just flee.

The tension doesn't really twang and the characters could be crueller. When Teddy (Michael Gould) warns, 'I have the power to make your life a nightmare', it's an empty threat. And, although Ciarán Owens is a wonderfully plummy butcher, his knife is sharper than his bite.


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