(Alfred Hickling’s article appeared in the Guardian, 4/9.)
Rory Mullarkey's first full-length play delivers a swift dramatic response to the horse-meat scandal. Set in a remote, post-Soviet region plagued by war and starvation, the flavour of equine nourishment is discussed, as are the practicalities of eating dog, badger and, ultimately, human flesh: "An interesting taste, so long as you don't think about it".
The Manchester-based, Russian-speaking Mullarkey was inspired by a trip to Ukraine, in which he came across a museum photograph of emaciated peasants from the 1930s, entitled Cannibals near Perm. Yet the narrative feels as primal and timeless as an orthodox chant, boldly connecting a mythic world of babushkas, icon-painters and holy fools to the plight of abducted east European brides in modern-day Manchester.