Saved certainly doesn’t save you from any aspect of human nature. From the death of a baby to sexual promiscuity, this play does leaves no malignant element of man unscathed. Its characters are on the dole and have grown up on council estates.
Edward Bond wrote the play in 1965 and Lord Chamberlain deemed it so immoral it was censored; I question why it didn’t stay that way. The play itself is rather ridiculous. Bonds’ message that men on the dole are inherently malevolent and bestial to the extent that they randomly kill a baby is absurd: the play lacks any sense of empathy or reasoning and the plot line itself is rather tedious.
Pam who has had a child with the heartless Fred. Pam tries desperately to make Fred pay her attention and help her with the child, but Fred is ever absent. Upon meeting in the park Pam leaves the baby with Fred and his friends. The friends, and Fred, proceed to punch the baby in the pram and rub its own excrement in its face. The plot follows Fred as he goes to prison, comes out of prison and Pam figuratively goes in and out of her imprisoned state of mind.
The play has absolutely no meaning. It is random and shocking: not shocking because it touches the core of our emotions, but because who on Earth randomly starts killing a baby? Evil does happen, but Bond does not justify these actions and, if it is his desire to castigate the welfare state, his play is so utterly hyperbolic as to be ineffective. Bond appears to be suggesting that all lower-class men want to go to the park all day and kill their babies. Weird.
However, Macaroon Productions certainly saved what they could of Bonds’ play. The cast all had moments of authenticity that struck the audience. Pam (Madeline Walker) although reminiscent of Eliza Doolittle at times, created moments of sincerity and pity. Similarly Fred (Jack Flowers) is so intense in his physicality the perplexed state of Freds’ mind is powerfully reflected. Despite being a character that embodies evil the audience empathises with Flowers’ extreme panic. Len (Marcus Balmer) and Mary (Lara McIvor) truly engaged the audience; their acting was so realistic that one forgot they were in the Burton Taylor studio, and truly felt a part of this bizarre world of violence and sex.
Edward Bond is clearly not my favourite writer, yet I would still recommend seeing the play. Not only for the well-cast actors, but also to engage with ideas of human nature. Does living in a council estate make you more likely to be violent? Bond’s play is timeless in this respect: the script allows the audience to extract a moral message and ponder on the state of our own society.
Saved will be performed at the BT Studio until Saturday 9th November. Tickets are available here