REVIEW: Beef, Lantern Theatre

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EVER wondered what goes through the mind of the bullied when they find the ability to bring revenge to their tormentors?

John Godber’s one-man tale of the worm turning may head in a largely inevitable direction but it is nothing short of shocking in the hands of Matthew Booth, a former Emmerdale star well cast as the wimpy youth with a home life as unpromising as his school and love life is miserable.

The first half is rich with bleak humour as we glimpse the life of Dave Cookson, a teen whose disappointing lot is made bearable only by his body building aspirations in his dad’s garage.

The second half by stunning contrast sees Dave return six years later, a uni power-lifting champion with his mind and his biceps set on avenging those who once mocked him. The act is a hammer blow as the stark possibilities of Dave’s single-minded vision peel away and it becomes apparent the discipline that rescued him is set to destroy not only those around him but himself in the process.

Booth is resourceful and dangerously believable as both the weedy younger Dave and the hate-filled hunk honed by bitterness and a manifesto of impending implied violence. Potent stuff.