It’s always exciting to see talent from your hometown flourish with their work. Doncaster born playwright Jeremy Fletcher returned to his roots with his one man performance The Life and Crimes of Reverend Raccoon. This show seems to have a genre all of its own; it’s a black comedy meets crime drama meets a confessional, but it all somehow manages to blend together perfectly.
Reverend Raccoon, played by Gareth Watkins is a con man, a faith healer, a liar and a cheat. However, through his fakery and real life events, he has found some actual faith and uses it to justify his actions. Raccoon’s god complex is fully displayed in the play; you could never tell whether to believe what he’s saying, and his change of accents along with his personality heightened this further. By the end of play, it seemed as though Raccoon believed his own stories that he has told his clients. But in the context of his situation after his own personal journey (no spoilers) it’s understandable, and you ultimately feel sorry for him.
The humour in this performance is black, but not so much that you don’t get a belly laugh.It also detract too much from the drama of the piece either. To me, this uncertain tone added to Raccoon’s conflicting personality more, as we were never sure how to react to what he’s saying. The lack of scenery, just a chair and a bag full of props, added to the intensity of the story. It felt as though Raccoon was thrusting his back story and his explosion of emotions into our faces. So we had no choice but to engage with him, and there was no escaping him.
The Life and Crimes of Reverend Raccoon is a testimony to Jeremy’s performance writing ability and Gareth’s perfomitivity. This surreal comedy drama will leave both laughing and shocked all simultaneously from beginning to end.