Honey Badger: A Powerful Story of Self-Discovery

A man reckons with toxic masculinity as he attempts to find a new way to be a man, as Juraj Benko performs his way through memories, trauma and his changing mental state.

Honey Badger
Honey Badger

In what is perhaps less of a story and more of a performed journey, Juraj Benko takes us through the past, from his abusive father and oppressive mother to the uncertainties of growing up in a world that is ever more challenging. The play opens with Benko sitting, slumped against a large travelling chest, jungle noises play, but rising above them are the sounds of a baby crying. Benko appears to have a child. This revelation trips Benko into uncertain territory, with little to no footing in this complicated predicament, Benko turns to the past and reckons with his complicated upbringing.

From here we are cast into a collage of moments as Benko travels from the jungle into his childhood. An unhappy home, personal insecurities and unresolved anger trouble him as the future prowls his mind, with the responsibility of fatherhood sitting at the heart of the play.

The subject matter is compelling. And while I found myself moved in the final moments of the play, the piece often didn’t hit the beats it might have. Roberta Carreri’s direction grasps ambitiously at bold theatrical choices, which feel off-kilter and rushed, choices which might work were they given more time and built to. Therein lies the rub, the piece jumps from moment to moment very quickly, at just sixty minutes, it feels as though it jumps very quickly between its themes and moments. Thus undermining the more ambitious choices.

For personal reasons, this subject matter is moving, and there is a tenderness to Benko’s performance, but what could have been a very thoughtful and eventually hopeful piece does not quite pull it off.

2 gold stars

Review by Tom Carter

‘The honey badger. Brave. Fearless. Always finds its way or creates one. Can endure almost any harm and never gives up. All of the knowledge and skills passes to its younglings. Until they are capable of starting their own journey of life.’

Even in the deepest darkness, there is a glimmer of light. The past cannot be changed. But perhaps the future can be?

From the Nordisk Teaterlaboratorium (Denmark), Honey Badger is a powerful and visceral look into the consequences of childhood abuse. A man travels back in time and relives his past: neglect, guilt, shame, and the deep longing for love and care.

Creative Team:
Co-production by Nordisk Teaterlaboratorium (Denmark)
Performance by Juraj Benko
Directed by Roberta Carreri
Scenography and Lighting Design: Fausto Pro
Original music: Arielle Zilkha

10 Apr to 13 April 2024
https://www.thecockpit.org.uk/

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