Returning after a sell-out season, Between has once again brought its courageous, sexually-charged narrative to the King’s Head Theatre for a limited run. With simplistic set and minimal prop use, the production is comfortably intimate in this small space, leaving audiences unable to shy away from the powerful exploration of male sexuality.
The play intertwines three relationships: an acting coach and his student, a couple with a dwindling sex life and two young friends discovering their sexual desires. Although it is not initially easy to grasp that they are different tales (as opposed to flashbacks of one couple’s life), the changing of clothing and background music are a smooth yet distinctive method of transition between stories. With a running time of just 50 minutes this does become a tad tedious but it’s soon forgotten when you are swept up in the journey, and the understated humour throughout (with a flash of nudity) is a warm welcome in an otherwise intense piece of theatre.
From start to finish there is an undeniable chemistry between the talented Oskar Brown and Nicholas Campbell; both gave very truthful performances, particularly as the young boys. The plot quickly escalates from friends experimenting to an attack on one about his sexuality. A heart-breaking thing to witness, it is truly enough to strike an emotional chord in any individual and challenge them to think about the expedition of self-discovery and attitudes within society. The theme of this psychological development is continued with the two adults where we see their struggles of living with contrasting views of sex and love, questioning what really defines a relationship. This gradual breakdown from affectionate to desperate in front of our eyes is honest and compelling, a real testament to the natural abilities of both Brown and Campbell, and the impressive direction from Geoffrey Hyland.
In scenes of the acting coach and student, love is illustrated as somewhat forbidden through Shakespeare’s sonnets. Perhaps an obvious link with Shakespeare is the complexity of its true meaning and not just the literal reflection in the chosen sonnet, but in their final two scenes it helps to intensify the passion and electric tension which fills the space when the two actors assume these roles, giving us a predictably tragic ending.
Between is a beautifully written, deep and original play which in one way or another is easily relatable regardless of situation or sexuality. Its impact is even greater thanks to the wonderful delivery from Brown and Campbell and is absolutely worth an evening (or afternoon) out.
Review by Sarena McIlwaine
Written by: Oskar Brown
Directed by: Geoffrey Hyland
Performed by: Oskar Brown & Nicholas Campbell
The King’s Head Theatre
115 Upper Street, London N1 1QN
Press night: Tuesday 27th January 9.15pm
24th January – 12th February
Tuesday – Saturday 9.15pm
Sundays 3pm and 7pm
24 February – 14 March
Tuesday – Saturday 10pm
Box Office | 020 7226 4443
Thursday 29th January 2015