Chris High reviews 'The Cut' starring Sir Ian McKellen

Chris High reviews Sir Ian McKellen in 'The Cut' on

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Chris High review: Blood Brothers  at the Liverpool Empire Theatre

The Cut

Sir Ian McKellen, Deborah Findlay, Jimmy Akinbolla, Tom Burke
Written by: Mark Ravenhill
Director: Michael Grandage
Liverpool Playhouse
April 20th, 2006

The Cut starring Sir Ian McKellen: 2006 promotional image


Everyman Liverpool Playhouse official website

Impeccably timed, acerbically witty and faultlessly performed, The Cut is, quite possibly, the 1984 for a new generation that tells the story of a government civil servant, Paul (McKellen), who has been given the task of administrating an "immobilising" surgical procedure to the underclass. In short, Paul decides who gets butchered and who doesn't and that he does this with seeming reluctance is immaterial. That Paul's wife, Susan, played superbly by Deborah Findlay, is suspicious though otherwise unaware of her husband's job only enhances Paul's personality in that he must lie and counter-lie in order to keep his secret and so brings the "darkness" of his character shining through.

This is an extraordinary new play that is in turns gripping, dark, thought-provoking and discomforting enough to rival anything written by Orwell and brings performances that sparkle from all those concerned. The acidity dripping from Ravenhill's script is both disconcertingly serious and laugh-out-loud funny as bureaucracy begins to strangle the system and so, inevitably, brings the "ruling" class down to be replaced by another set of bureaucrats promising "change".

And it is not just the delivery of the lines, some of the best of which are reserved for Paul and Susan's son, Stephen (Burke), but also the bodily angst and facial contortion with which each word left unsaid is delivered. Rarely has a meal eaten in total silence portrayed so much mistrust and resentment.

A story of betrayal? Certainly. A story of deceit? Definitely. But The Cut is also a story of morality that transcends time with a sleight of hand that is as admirable as it is worthy and demonstrates that history is very rarely learned from.

Everyman Liverpool Playhouse official website



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“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
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