Sugar Baby, Dirty Protest, Chapter, Cardiff

April 26, 2018 by

Marc with a ‘c’ tries not to act on impulse.

“Impulse gets you into trouble.

The sort of trouble that leads to Vicci Park, murder, going on the run and Billy the Seal”

Alan Harris’ Sugar Baby is a high energy, hugely entertaining, one-man comedy drama starring Alex Griffin-Griffiths.

“A’right, my story is a bit crappy and dirty and set in Fairwater and not LA and I feels a bit of a bell-end because people like me are not supposed to have a story.

But, anyway, that’s a load of shit”

The show premiered in a production by Dirty Protest in Paines Plough’s pop-up theatre, Roundabout, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2017. It received rave reviews and it is easy to see why.

Harris’ language is punchy, the humour sharp and Griffin-Griffiths’ delivery is bang on the nose.  He holds the audience in the palm of his hand from the off.  Here is a love story, a conventional “boy meets girl (again)” tale, but it is also, in a way, an expression of love towards an unlikely hero, a drug dealer from the bad end of town; a loveable rogue whose filial loyalty defines him. Plays aren’t usually written about these sorts, and if they are, they tend to weigh heavily on the ugly, dark danger of their lives. The dearth of working-class characters and actors on stage and screen is a recognised issue in the arts. How welcome, therefore, that Harris’ writing heartily fleshes out an easy stereotype into a multi-layered, deeply impassioned, suitably flawed individual.

Presenting a one-man show can be a difficult task.  An audience might face the challenge of following a multi-character story through one voice. Variety might be lost.  Practically, only one person dictates the energy and delivery of the piece. None of these are a concern here.

Catherine Paskell has directed with great ingenuity.  Griffin-Griffiths’ portrayal of other characters is joyously accompanied by individualised vocal and physical traits.  It is obvious that Griffin-Griffiths derives as much pleasure from their delivery as the audience does in observing them and this shared enjoyment of being in the room together is one of the magical things about this show.

Set in the round to reflect its original staging, with lighting by Ace McCarron and sound design by Dan Lawrence, this is a Dirty Protest play not to be missed.

Catch it in Chapter Arts Centre

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