There are occasions when the weary might sigh with enervation at the news of another play in celebration of London life and London living. But should there be any surprise that this sprawling metropolis continues to provide seemingly endless artistic inspiration?
Dirty Special Thing reminds us (on more than one occasion), that the capital is the ‘biggest unplanned city in the world’. It is a glorious accident. Not constructed with foresight, it has amplified beyond even the most fanciful of estimations. All the shades of life reside within its sloppy borders. And many of them are referenced in this impressive work.
Matters launch with Joseph (Helder Fernandes), a young man on the cusp of completing the Knowledge and becoming a London taxi driver. Enthusiastically shouting the praises of his profession and the city itself, his infectious excitement segues into other instances of city life; the recalcitrant apprentice, the venal wiles of a moneyed city boy, a lonely man looking for love, and even the travails of a well-meaning immigrant seeking leave to remain. Throughout, a wonderful kaleidoscopic picture emerges. London is celebrated, yes, but so is life. Humour is eked out from a buoyant script and conveyed with palpable joy.
Dirty Special Thing is no existentialist visual essay. It may also have a rather trite conclusion, borne out by a coda that is a tiny bit saccharine. Yet, somehow, the journey makes it all bearable. There is ingenuity in its regale. A midsection musical interlude allows scope for an accompanying montage of respective individual dreams; underscoring a notion that ambitions in the pipeline are not necessarily pipe dreams. It is a positive note of encouragement and is offered a stirring romantic poetry through its execution.
Amongst a troupe of fantastic performers, Sebastian Carrington-Howell, Siana-Leigh Stoddart and Moneer Elmasseek particularly stand out. Each and every one of these actors clearly has a bright future ahead of him/her. Thanks should be given to Generation Arts: an organisation set up to offer pre-drama school acting training for disadvantaged young people. It is a noble ethos, and it would be easy to be cynical, in light of this knowledge, to take any words of praise in support of this effort as being obsequious to the cause, akin to a golf handicap applied to theatre reviews. That is not the case. This is undeniably impressive.
Not only does Dirty Special Thing capture the high octane pulse of London life, but it also exhibits the exuberant, gung-ho energy of youth. As a snapshot of the hustle, bustle, scrapes and scraps that compete in the daily existence of the capital, this is vital.
Review by Greg Wetherall
The Platform Theatre directed by Ali Godfrey
The run is from the 3rd to the 6th June 2015, show commencing at 7.30pm.
Saturday 6th June 2015