I’ve never been to the Lion and Unicorn Theatre which as a born and bred north Londoner is, I know, disgraceful. I was met by a very polite and welcoming front of house who was clearly as pleased to be back to live performances as I was and directed through to my seat. It’s a simple black box auditorium, intimate but with one of the better seating setups I’ve seen in this kind of venue, all Covid-compliant, spacious and clean.
Hematoma bills itself as a ‘road play’ – like a road movie, but on the stage. I wasn’t sure what to expect and I wasn’t sure if one man and his thoughts would be the return to being in a live audience that I wanted, but I definitely needn’t have worried. This felt to me like a true coming of age piece, and I spent an hour utterly engrossed in writer and performer Keiran Dee, who delivered a truly impressive performance of a heartfelt and unique script.
Funny throughout yet incredibly moving in parts – trite though it sounds, I really did laugh and I really did cry – Hematoma is Keiran’s retelling of the years he spent abroad trying to fill a gap that he’d keenly felt all his life. The feeling of needing to make sense of things, looking for a missing part is one that many can relate to yet Keiran’s take on this was unique, and I thought very insightful. Slipping seamlessly between monologues and character acting, with a clear talent for accents and only a small stool on stage for company, I found myself swept along as the small stage was filled with passion and emotion. The lighting and sound cues were incredibly slick and really added to the performance, taking us from loud clubs to quiet spaces of contemplation. This can be challenging in a smaller space and can sometimes appear a bit jarring, but these transitions were seamless and Director Grace Millie has clearly put careful consideration into making best use of the stage.
The writing is beautiful – at times raw but always friendly and relatable; it sometimes felt like being in a pub catching up with an old friend. The book-ending that opens and closes the play with some touching call backs made the performance feel complete to me, like I’d started out on a journey and come home again, all the richer for the experience. A delightful return to live performance and a big thumbs up from me. https://www.moonloaf.co.uk/hematoma
Reviewer: Zoe Meeres
Reviewed: 8th June 2021
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★