Has Danny Clifford done it again? Andrew Riley went to Salford to find out.
When Danny Clifford burst as a writer into the Fringe scene with his first play about the Salford Pals, From Heaven to Hell, it quite rightly garnered him praise, not only for its writing, but it’s direction by Sue Jenkins.
In his new piece, Danny has managed to take a very personal look at the descent into drug addiction, gathered a cast who are simply spellbinding, but is sadly let down in my opinion by a director who simply didn’t share the vision the writer had for his work.
Yes, they were limited by time constraints because of how busy the Kings Arms is over the Fringe, but the direction appeared lazy and at times non existent. Karl Koo had the germ of a fantastic piece, and either rushed, or didn’t bother with direction.
The scenes appeared too rushed, and the simple dimming of the lights to announce a scene change lacks any imagination. There is no denying this is a tough business to be in, especially with a fringe production, but come on! Would it have killed to give the actors a little more than three chairs to work with and a bit of background music to cover scene changes?
The stand out actor in the cast is Eve Gordon, whose trip from happy fiancé to pregnant crack whore is very believable, but not one of those on stage gave less than everything. Special mentions must go to Dru Jones as Dave and David Ambler as Frank, but as I say, the whole cast shone.
Overall, this would be better served as a more expanded work, perhaps running to two acts, and to give the cast more to work with than some chairs. The solitary use of the projection screen was a waste of a tool.
I dearly hope Danny Clifford begins to look for tougher roles for himself. You cannot seriously tell me that you can complete the RADA Shakespeare course and not want to push yourself as an actor?
If this is expanded and given a set and a better direction, then I seriously think it could be a big hit.
This short run is a good place to start. Mr Clifford is a hell of a writer, I just wish in this instance his director had shared his vision.