Perview by Paul Nelson
HOWARD Barker's Claw is a rarely performed, darkly comic tale
of greed and corruption in post-war Britain, following Noel Biledew's
journey from illegitimate war baby to his successes as a pimp
for the cream of society.
Noel's pursuits ultimately entangle him in the Tory political
machine orchestrated by the vile Home Secretary...
Long considered the enfant terrible of contemporary British theatre
and the subject of heated debate, Claw was Howard Barker's first
three-act play, written in the 1970s, in his inimitable style;
with a host of striking characters, black humour and a chilling
yet profoundly beautiful climax.
On the European mainland, Barker is today considered one of the
major writers of modern European theatre. In the last three years,
27 of his works have been staged in six languages in 17 countries
as diverse as Canada, New Zealand and Slovenia. Yet in Britain,
his home country, he is largely unknown; during this period there
have been just four productions of his plays.
Barker's plays are known for their fearless exploration of power,
sexuality and human motivation. His texts overflow with rich language,
challenging ideas, history, beauty, violence and imaginative comedy,
all brought together within the extremes of human experience to
create a powerful and compelling theatrical experience. Barker's
texts are constructed on the premise that theatre is a necessity
in society, a place for imagination and moral speculation, not
constrained by the demands of realism or any ideology.
Barker describes his work with the term Theatre of Catastrophe.
In Barker's work, no attempt is made to satisfy any demand for
clarity or the deceptive simplicity of a single 'message'; each
performance is like a public challenge in which actors and audience
are inspired to find meaning and resonance from a multiplicity
of interpretations. Whether loved or hated, his plays are impossible
Claw by Howard Barker, Directed by Jonathan Loe, Designed
by Sarah Turner and Alexander Costello, Lighting Design by Peter
Harrison, WITH: Tom Bacon, Adrian Clargo, Stephen Davy, Imogen
Dobbs, Sue Emmett, Sara Kewly, Tara Lester, Edward Rees, Martin
Ritchie. Presented by Kazida Productions at Greenwich Playhouse,
Greenwich Station Forecourt, London SE10. Tickets 020 8858 9256
from March 18 to April 13, Tuesday to Saturday at 7.45pm Sundays