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Posts Tagged ‘Adam Spreadbury-Maher’

It’s nearly eight years since Australian playwright Tommy Murphy’s UK debut with Holding the Man, also at the Trafalgar Studios, in the bigger space (https://garethjames.wordpress.com/2010/05/07/holding-the-man). This one is a welcome transfer from the ever enterprising Kings Head Theatre.

The play tells the story of runaway teenager Shane, from small-town life and bullying brother Ben to Sydney. He’s nervous, naive and vulnerable but manages to get a job and somewhere to live and begins to explore his sexuality. He’s befriended by two older men, one of whom gives him an STD and the other food and fatherly love. When Ben comes to find him, we learn that he is as much victim as bully, feeling responsible for how Shane has turned out.

The piece has more depth than you might expect in 90 minutes playing time. The first part is very funny but it becomes darker and ends charmingly. The writing is great, but so are the three terrific performances. Genuine Aussies Stephen Connery-Brown and Dan Hunter play the older men Peter and Will, with the latter doubling up as brother Ben, but it’s the hugely impressive live wire performance by Roly Botha, who made his professional debut with the Kings Head run of the play in 2016, that blew me away. Adam Spreadbury-Maher directs with great sensitivity to the material.

One to catch in this short run.

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Whilst Kevin Elyot’s last play, Twilight Song, has recently been staged at the Park Theatre (https://garethjames.wordpress.com/2017/07/20/twilight-song), his first, written over 30 years before, has been revived at the King’s Head Theatre. Neither are up to the (small) main body of his theatre work, but both prove interesting pieces in completing the picture of an important late 20th century playwright.

Tony and Greg have been in a relationship for five years, though it’s an open one; both have one night stands. When they employ out-odd-work actor Robert as a cleaner, it tests the relationship. A fourth main character, Tony’s very camp and very promiscuous friend William, seems to be there to bring life and humour to an otherwise rather dull situation.

It’s a first play by someone starting out as a writer and that’s exactly how it feels. The longer first half goes nowhere and the much meatier second half ends abruptly and inconclusively. The promiscuity seems very much in period, but the long-term relationship seems more contemporary. The talk of sex is more frank than you might expect in the theatre at the time it was written.

Adam Spreadbury-Maher’s production, with an excellent design by Amanda Mascarenhas, and the performances of Lee Knight, Jason Nwonga, Tom Lambert and Elliot Hadley, serve the play well, though I found the casting of the same actor as William and Jurgen off-putting – impossible to keep the moustache and change the character, it seems!

I’m glad I caught it, to complete my Elyot ‘collection’, but beyond that it’s a very good production of a flawed first play.

 

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