RADIANT VERMIN (Inis Nua): Devilishly good home redecoration

(l-r) Eleni Delopoulos, Emilie Krause, and Adam Hammet in RADIANT VERMIN. Photo credit: Katie Reing.

(l-r) Eleni Delopoulos, Emilie Krause, and Adam Hammet in RADIANT VERMIN. Photo credit: Katie Reing.

“Because enough is never enough” is the motto of the shopping channel in this English suburb, being developed along with a new mall called “Never Enough.” Philip Ridley’s Radiant Vermin is an entertaining cautionary tale about the wages of greed and consumerism, imaginatively directed by Claire Moyer.

The play begins in the midst of the housing collapse. This abandoned ghost town, “Chernobyl chic,” can, it seems, be rescued by one couple moving into #3; their renovations will encourage buyers for #1, 2, 4 and 5. And so a real estate hot spot will be born.

Miss Dee (Eleni Delopoulos) magically appears in the lives of two “good people,” a young couple expecting their first child. She offers Jill (the charming Emilie Krause) and Oliver (the equally charming Adam Hammet), a new house. As members of the “desperate underclass,” who are tormented by envy for all the stuff they see in stores and in catalogues, they jump at the chance. Faust in a hot pink skirt, proffering a contract. Beware the real estate deal.

Jill and Ollie accidentally kill a hungry, homeless intruder (the excellent Eleni Delopoulos transformed), and then discover that the room he died in is suddenly transformed into the kitchen of their dreams. The renovations and the murders continue, until the house is a showplace, the envy of their multi-ethnic neighbors. They rationalize, they justify, they confess, and yet….

The play’s style often depends on mimed narrative, as Jill and Ollie recount events (“It’s the next day…), and both Krause and Hammet have a fine time with a variety of accents and voices. There are self-reflective jokes about having “a Meisner moment” and the nudge, nudge, wink wink discovery that it takes 66.6 seconds (i.e., the Number of the Beast) to move the dead bodies.

Like much social satire, Radiant Vermin makes its point and makes its point and makes its point, until finally deciding to indict us just for watching and listening: “Ponder the possibilities,” they advise. It turns out that sometimes enough is more than enough.

[Inis Nua Theatre Co. at the Louis Bluver Theater at the Drake, 302 S. Hicks Street] October 19-November 6, 2016; inisnuatheatre.org.

Reviews, Theater - Tags: , , , , , , - no comments

About the author

Toby Zinman

Toby Zinman is Professor of English at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was a Fulbright professor at Tel Aviv University and a visiting professor in China. She publishes widely and lectures internationally on American drama. Her fifth book, Replay: Classic Modern Drama Reimagined, was recently published by Methuen, and she has just finished an essay, "Visions of Tragedy in Contemporary American Drama," due out in 2017. Zinman is also the chief theater critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer where she reviews New York and London as well as Philadelphia. She was named by American Theatre magazine as, “one of the 12 most influential critics in America.” Her travel writing has taken her all over the world, from dogsledding in the Yukon to hiking across England.