Pros: A bright script and engaging performances from the cast.
Cons: Explicit dialogue might be offensive to some theatre goers.
Returning to the King’s Head Theatre is like meeting up with an old friend, always welcoming and reassuring in its presence. It was the perfect antidote to a cold January evening, with its glowing open fireplace and beer on hand to soothe the troubles of the day. Framed portraits of actors smiled down on the bar as we waited for the performance to begin.
Strangers in Between makes a return to the theatre following a successful run in 2016, and follows the emotional travails of Shane; a timid new kid in town trying to make his way in Sydney. Driven out of a provincial town with narrow minded attitudes, he strives to fit into his new environment. Shane finds work in a convenience store and soon meets two kindred spirits that change his life.
Will strolls into the store and Shane is immediately smitten by the tanned beachcomber. But is this the right relationship for Shane, and is Will aware of a tender youth in his midst? Peter soon rocks up; a mature, avuncular figure, although one can never be sure whether his feelings for Shane are purely friendship or something much deeper.
An on/off affair begins between Shane and Will, with predictable bumps in the road as the needy youth battles with the brick built adult. The story takes a sinister turn as Shane’s abusive older brother Ben finds him, resolved to take him home. Family revelations give the plot a surprising twist as Shane descends into a spiral of despair, however fortunately the play’s ending offers a pleasing, heart-warming conclusion.
Overall, this is a solidly written, well-acted piece for which the King’s Head has become famous. The more intimate aspects of Shane and Will’s relationship were tactfully contained underneath a bed sheet which made for some hilarious visual sequences. The plot bubbled with some genuinely funny lines, although at times was more explicit than it needed to be; there was a liberal use of the c-word, which seemed superfluous and distracting on occasion.
The cast were on fine form with Roly Botha as Shane and Dan Hunter in the dual roles of Will and Ben; but they were perhaps beaten for the cigar by Stephen Connery-Brown as wise owl Peter; who arguably had the best lines in the script. As per usual, a big thumbs up for the boys and girls at Upper Street in Islington.
Author: Tommy Murphy
Director: Adam Spreadbury-Maher
Producer: King’s Head Theatre
Booking Until: 4 February 2017
Box Office: 0207 226 8561
Booking Link: https://kingsheadtheatre.ticketsolve.com/#/shows/873560596/events