Review: Butcher at the Cultch is emotional, suspenseful thriller

This was an incredible show, somehow managing to successfully mix humour into this brutal, suspenseful thriller. It was hard-hitting, emotionally potent, and I’m so glad I saw it!

Nicholas Billon’s play starts on Christmas Eve with an old man dropped on the doorstep of a police station wearing a military uniform with a Santa hat, speaking only in a foreign language, and a butcher’s hook hanging around his neck with the words “Arrest Me” written on a lawyer’s business card. From there, we get a show with many twists, turns, and unexpected reveals. This show will literally keep you at the edge of your seat, unsure who to trust or what to believe.

All of the performances came off spectacularly, perfectly deceiving and engaging the audience’s emotions at the right moments. Although attention was frequently drawn to the ‘interpreters’, the old man being investigated (Peter Anderson) handles the intricacies of the fake foreign language beautifully and still provided audiences with a developed, cruel character.

The lawyer Hamilton Barnes (Noel Johansen) and Inspector Lamb (Daryl Shuttleworth) developed an immediate bond on stage that balanced the entire production. Johansen’s performance gave a necessary base for the whole story, grounding each of the key topics and creating much of the intellectual warring between them.

Lindsay Angell as nurse Elena shines from the moment she steps onstage. Her emotion drove the plot in a way that is quite rare to find. Her connection with Johansen was palpable—their interactions sizzled.

This show was painful in the most thrilling, deceptive, and engaging way. Nothing felt basic or run of the mill, I was literally on the edge of my seat for the last 15-20 minutes of that show. Butcher was at The Cultch March 20 to 31.

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