Anyway, the purpose of my visit was to see Knuckle, written by David Hare and produced by the Trinity Players. First produced in the seventies, Knuckle parodies the Mickey Spillane/Mike Hammer detective thriller genre, with several direct addresses to the audience made by the key characters and rather a lot of 1950s background music.
Curly Delafield is a swaggering arms dealer who has returned to his home town of Guildford after an absence of 12 years, to investigate the disappearance of his younger sister, Sarah. Sarah’s clothes have been found on a beach in Eastbourne so it is presumed that she is dead, the question being was it murder or suicide?
During his investigation Curly uncovers details of his sister’s complicated life, together with that of her friends Max and Jenny. Curly stays with his father, a man determined not to lose control of his emotions. The “message” of the play seemed to be that money corrupts – something I think we’ve all worked out for ourselves, so as messages go, it seemed rather dated. Now I know that there are people out there who believe that David Hare is up there with the Bard – and his stuff never dates, but… well, I don’t think Knuckle is his finest hour.
That aside, the choice of material available to student productions is limited by the age range of their actors – and you might question the wisdom of them choosing a play that includes several “father versus son” scenes, when clearly both actors are of a very similar age – but in this case, they pulled it off. That was largely down to the first class performance by Richard Williams who played Curly’s father Patrick, the voice, the eye movement, all the nuances were there, his every gesture was completely convincing – he was a sanctimonious old bore, and he never fluffed a line, he was brilliant.
If you do go to see it, it might be worth noting that there is a fifteen minute interval and that there is a student bar – somewhere. No one tells you this, I thought everyone was going outside to get some fresh air and I didn’t want to risk getting lost again, so I stayed in my seat, only to feel cheated when at the end of the fifteen minutes the rest of the audience came skipping back in clutching their bottles of Budweiser.