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Barker set to Claw his way back into theatre

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 to ignore.

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 4pm.

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