WHEN you see a coffin made out of Weetabix packets on a stage you might be expecting a cereal thriller - or even a black comedy.

This new drama Knee Deep in Promises - the third in the Royal Court's in house scheme for developing new writing - is neither.

It is an unusual look at bereavement - and love that has died on different levels.

It also explores the decisions people make in lives and their consequences.

It is peppered with humour but the overall theme is one of sadness and raw regret.

The central character is 19-year-old Dean an outsider coming to terms with who he is.

Dean is played by versatile actor Lewis Bray who has had great success with his one-man play Cartoonopolis.

He is a veritable tour-de force.

His character likes to keep notes and has done since childhood and into his late teens.

His next door neighbour Trish (Sharon Byatt) is a one-time actress obsessed with facts revealed at random moments throughout the slowly-paced production where she breaks the fourth wall to explain the dictionary definition of a word.

There is also the girl Dean loves - Hayley Mortimer (Debbie Brennan), a sensitive soul with her own story to tell.

Dean's late mum Sadie is referred to throughout the 90-minute (including interval) production.

Her funeral is a problem.

How to deal with the much-missed Sadie is an issue that has to be resolved.

Yet I feel the whole concept would be better suited as a 75-minute monologue from Dean's point of view.

There are two plays at work here from writer Deborah Morgan.

The core concept is a strong one.

There are fine performances from the two female members of the cast - Sharon and Debbie.

Director Paul Goatzee uses back-projection and lighting to punctuate the narrative.

Knee Deep in Promises is at home in the intimacy of the Court Studio, just like the previous work staged there by other writers with Masquerade and Pig.

The theatre continues to offer varied styles of drama and it is always encouraging to hear new voices.


Three stars

Until October 19

Tickets from 0151 709 4321