Friday, 22 August 2014

Theatre review: Between

Oskar Brown and Nicholas Campbell perform vignettes from three gay-themed stories although, as Between goes on, it seems increasingly likely that these are all parts of the same person's story. Brown is also the writer of this South African two-hander directed by Geoffrey Hyland, which adds to the feeling that there's something autobiographical to the strands. They include an actor in a long-term relationship that's falling apart - Brown plays the actor whose boyfriend at first feels neglected sexually, but later emotionally as well. Elsewhere Brown is an acting coach and Campbell his student, trying to rehearse Sonnet 23 ("As an unperfect actor on the stage...") for an audition, but finding it hard to relate to Shakespeare's words - or possibly not wanting to give away quite how much he does relate to them.

We bounce back and forward between these story strands and the third, which goes back to the teenage years. Two boys who've been friends since childhood start to figure out their sexualities as they grow up, and experiment together.

This is probably the best-realised of the storylines - opening with the obligatoryFULL-FRONTAL MALE NUDITY ALERT!from Campbell as he shakes it all about to Brown's discomfort, it largely deals with teenagers' uncanny ability to push the boundaries sexually while denying anything "gay" is going on, and Campbell's character is out to see how far he can take this. Inevitably the fear of being seen as an outsider sees the friends turn on each other.

The other scenes too show moments of promise in Brown's writing, but part of the feeling that these are all snapshots from a single life comes from desperately trying to find something to draw everything together, because there's little else to make this feel like a coherent play. It's 45 minutes jumping between various characters (the rest of the running time is down to the 20 (TWENTY) minutes' (MINUTES) delay in starting) and feels like a promising work-in-progress, by no means the finished article.

Between by Oskar Brown is booking in repertory until the 23rd of August, then returning from the 27th to the 31st of January 2015, at the King's Head Theatre.

Running time: 1 hour 5 minutes straight through.

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