The most identifiable element to Saved’s plot is the stoning of a baby in a pram by a group of men – one of whom is the child’s father. Macaroon Productions will be staging it in 4th week, a week after The Death of Maria, where a woman is accused of eating her own baby, and a term after Middle England, which centred on a working class couple who are blamed by the press for the abduction of their own child.
Saved is superficially similar to plays staged recently in the BT, but it was shockingly unorthodox in the 60s. Written by Edward Bond in 1965, who bears a more than passing resemblance to Michael Caine, Wikipedia tells me the script of Saved was “instrumental in the abolition of theatre censorship in the UK”.
The script charts the lives of South London working class youths whose options have diminished thanks to a brutal economic climate. The first scene I saw showed Fred and Pam, the dead baby’s parents, in prison. Fred (Jack Flowers) gives an intensely physical performance: the pair’s accents occasionally slipped, but the scene’s power lay in the interplay between brusqueness and tenderness between the pair. Pam tells Fred she’ll wait for him: he grunts back, “Yeah yeah, God help us.”
Pam (Madeleine Walker) is softly-spoken at points and incongruously sweet to the man who helped murder her child: the psychology behind her submissiveness will presumably be examined over the show’s two hour run time.
Another scene showed Pam’s mother, Mary (Lara McIvor) and Pam’s ex-boyfriend, Len (Marcus Balmer) at home. Mary is on her way out to a film with a friend, Len is polishing his shoes. They talk like a mother and a son, albeit a mother and son who bring up sex a little too often. McIvor’s lilting, assured delivery of lines means the audience is happy to settle in to observe.
This sense of security is swiftly shattered by Bond’s script. A run in Mary’s stocking needs to be fixed. It’s on her lower thigh, on the inside, just above her knee. The audience cringes as Balmer leans in to sew it up, his awkwardness visible on his face. Then he relaxes; the audience cringes more. He talks about how soft her skin is, and asks her repeatedly to stay at home with him.
McIvor is the perfect mixture of Madonna and seductress: she knows exactly what she’s doing, but leaves him in a whirl of handbags and motherly chiding. Balmer is left alone on the sofa: he happily unzips his trousers for a wank, a knowing smile playing across his lips.
Saved is playing at the BT Studio from Tuesday 5th to Saturday 9th November. Tickets are available here