The Closure Of Craig Solly | Review by Steve Bennett
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The Closure Of Craig Solly

Note: This review is from 2014

Review by Steve Bennett

With reddened, distant eyes and his usual BBC Three-friendly hair slicked tightly back, using a comb with the precision and intensity of a cut-throat razor to perfect the sculpture, Russell Kane appears sallow and menacing; forcing his body to rigidity as if physically restraining his inner anger.

He is Craig Solly, a psychopath in a criminal mental facility. We, the audience, are the friends and family of his victims. And this hour is a ‘closure process’, a visit to his cell designed to help us understand what happened to our loved ones and why.

The ‘what’ is easy; he was a mercenary gangster, meting out rough justice as a dispassionate part of the job. The savage attack on his wife and her lover, with gelding scissors and acid after catching them in flagrante… well, that was more personal. Solly is less keen on explaining the ‘whys’, however, menacingly teasing us that forgiveness, empathy or even a narrative to what made him this way will not be forthcoming in an encounter he considers pointless. He’s only complying in the hope of a quid pro quo for a cell with a view - sound familiar?

Ever-keen to extend his artistic wings beyond his often low-rent TV work, Kane also wrote this one-man play, and, in the early stages at least, he finds the lure of the gag a little too irresistible, as he drops in jokes referring to an encounter with a transsexual in Thailand, imagining a Trip Advisor review of his current high-security accommodation, or even self-consciously mocking the pretensions of a comedian daring to do a proper play at the Edinburgh Fringe.

But his character is keen to point out that the good don’t have a monopoly on poetry, and his darkly eloquent turns of phrase describing his actions and justifying them to himself become a more natural part of Solly’s make-up. The more we come to know him, and the less he wisecracks, the more sinister he becomes: a man with no morals, no remorse except perhaps for what he did to his wife – yet with a magnetic hold on our attention.

That this monster offers none of the answers to his appalling deeds only makes him the more unnerving as the writing and the performance become increasingly intense. It’s certainly an interesting move into psychological drama from Kane – and without the bolted-on gags that don’t emerge naturally from Solly’s awful character, it would be even better.

Review date: 23 Aug 2014
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Underbelly Bristo Square

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