It's a gripping title, innit? Writer and director Drew Davies has got a bold and gutsy play in Chav Scum Kills God that is all mouth and in your face. Rather like the main character, Chaverston Robert Scumthorpe Jr, who wakes up in the afterlife, meets his dad who is a power-hungry middle-aged rent boy for the evil dead then is coerced into looking for the big guy upstairs in order to blow him up as part of a power struggle between good and evil. It's a very 21st century, modern, urban Paradise Lost complete with God who could easily do a few barmaid shifts in Eastenders and a clinical assistant in the afterlife who come across as a ghostly, sinister Niles from Frasier.
Chav Scum Kills God is a refreshingly chirpy light touch on dark, heavy subjects. Suicide bombing, class, love, faith and reincarnation are all in the mix but it's not meant to change your life. With that in mind, it's a fun night but if you're seeking loftier, insightful, cutting analysis of the chav phenomenon, organised religion or death, you won't find it here.
The wrong note which unfortunately undermines the effect of the writing and hearty, energetic performances is in the fundamental misunderstanding and misrepresentation of the chav as a type. There is a distinctly cockney aspect to Robert and his father father than chav; there is too much banter, too much cocky chatter and upbeat interaction to be convincingly chav. The sullenness and malevolence of the average chav is not present and Robert's helpfulness, eagerness and general likeableness does not fulfil the promise of his Burberry baseball cap. Chav Scum Kills God is like Only Fools and Horses in the Underworld and is not at all like standing at a bus stop with glowering teens throwing chips at each other. It's a devilish comedy that forgets the devil is in the details.
Chav Scum Kills God at the Courtyard Theatre until 30 November. For more information and to book, go to the Courtyard Theatre website.