“You asked ‘who are you then?’ I don’t think I know the answer to that.”
The debut play by Charles Entsie marks the King’s Head Theatre’s return to live performances after 436 days. Directed by Aileen Gonsalves, the audience are exposed to, and reminded of, the lengths gay men feel they must go to hide in the closet.
Sorcha Corcoran’s skeletal car structure against a concrete backdrop, set in an underground car park, brilliantly highlights the claustrophobia felt by the two men. At very different stages in their lives, they are equally lost in trying to find themselves, “tired of just surviving”. The play is riddled with their anxieties, distraught and pain, despite attempts to suppress.
Utilising Gonsalves’s own method, of the audience feeling what the actor does in each moment, the tension is palpable. Moments of prolonged silence are truly ingenious. We are told so much through expertly orchestrated stillness and quiet.
In the role of Man, Razak Osman is emotive, fuelled with an essence of having control, but he perfectly reveals his utter lack of it. Osman’s monologue is a beautiful conduction of feeling, seamlessly creating crescendos of emotion building to cacophonies of anger and pitfalls of utter helplessness. A real showcase of talent.
Making his theatre debut, Shak Benjamin is outstanding as Boy. His adolescence is not presented as a caricature, it’s relatable, charming and heart-wrenching. Benjamin, at just 19, gives a masterclass in acting with his eyes. With Gonsalves’s fantastic direction, he reveals so much through just eye movements, glances and stares. The pair work flawlessly in tandem to treat us to a gorgeous performance of theatre.
Entsie’s site specific play runs until 19th June in Islington Square and is undeniably a piece of art. Carried beautifully by subtleties and nuances, the King’s Head Theatre production is a real masterclass of powerful storytelling. https://kingsheadtheatre.com/whats-on/no-strings-attached
Reviewer: Jessica Battison
Reviewed: 27th May 2021
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★
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