Home » London Theatre Reviews » Two Worlds No Family at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre | Review

Two Worlds No Family at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre | Review

A generation ago it was the HIV/AIDS crisis that was killing off a significant number of the LGBT+ community. HIV treatment in the UK today is now available in the UK free at the point of use, with well over ninety percent of people diagnosed having such a low ‘viral load’ that the likelihood of passing on the infection is minimal. But there is, as others have pointed out, another crisis these days that means the death rates across the board are higher than they could be. Two Worlds No Family focuses on the mental health pressures faced by young men like Ollie (Cameron Percival): he finds himself taking drugs, and while there’s some sort of euphoric reaction, they do infinitely more harm than good.

Two Worlds No FamilyEverything’s fine, or so Ollie tells his increasingly concerned friends, Tyler (Tom Plenderleith) and Kat (Amy Kitts). There are other friends, of course, and Kat seems implausibly upset at her own birthday party, getting frustrated with Tyler outside the venue waiting for Ollie to turn up when she appears to have plenty of other company inside. That said, Tyler and Kat are the friends Ollie sees the most, and their interactions raise intriguing questions about how to try to deal with a friend who is evidently not altogether okay but insists that they are. After all, if someone doesn’t want help, are they are entitled to refuse it?

Not all is ever revealed, at least not in the hour-long running time. I’m still none the wiser as to why Cat considers H (Anthony Fletcher) to be persona non grata, such is the venom with which she speaks to him. Completing the set of on-stage characters is The Man (Andrew Rolfe), who is wealthy enough to be able to afford a hedonistic lifestyle. There may not be anything altogether unusual in this day and age about that, or indeed in Ollie being at the receiving end of The Man’s payments for (ahem) good times – university tuition fees being what they are these days, for instance, there have been instances of undergraduates having their studies funded by wealthy businessmen in search of (again, ahem) adventure.

The play doesn’t quite follow the pattern of everything being all well and good before a critical incident arises, changing the lives of the play’s characters irreversibly. Rather, things get progressively worse for Ollie. Through the use of voiceovers of various phone calls and voicemail messages, the audience ends up knowing more about Ollie’s personal circumstances than any of the other characters. There is a critical incident, and it is as heart-breaking as such incidents tend to be, and this production deserves credit for not being overly sentimental or melodramatic in the aftermath of the event.

But in a remarkably multi-layered play, with an accompanying soundtrack that includes upbeat tunes from the likes of Abba and Tina Turner, there are mixed emotions all around by the show’s conclusion, and thoughts invariably turned to how differently things could have turned out if only there was a deeper and more meaningful level of communication between friends. Whilst there are many plays that deal with the broader themes of not being able to respond to things people simply didn’t know about, this one does well to paint a comprehensive picture of someone’s life. It’s a sobering thought that in a world filled with billions of people, a good number feel that there is nobody they can turn to share, properly and wholeheartedly, the sheer reality of their situation.

The play seemed to have left its mark on members of the audience at the performance I attended. It felt like familiar territory in terms of plot, and at the same time, it’s the kind of story that very much deserves to be told. Truth sometimes hurts. But it is the truth that sets people free. A compelling and fascinating show.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

Two Worlds No Family by Ben Reid is based on a true story about mental health, the importance of open and honest communication, and what it is to be LGBTQ+ today. Draft99 Theatre are proud to be premiering Two Worlds No Family at The Lion and Unicorn Theatre.

Ollie, Kat and Tyler are best friends who know everything there is to know about each other. When Ollie is faced with money troubles, he needs to make ends meet without disrupting the family unit he loves.
But when a mysterious man approaches Ollie in a club offering solutions to all his problems, how much is Ollie willing to lose in order to save himself?

Ollie Cameron Percival
Kat Amy Kitts
Tyler Tom Plenderleith
H Anthony Fletcher
The Man Andrew Rolfe

Director Ben Reid
Producer Ben Reid
Sound Design Ben Reid
Set Design Luke Sharman
Costume Design Luke Sharman

COMPANY: Draft99 Theatre
PLAY: Two Worlds No Family
DATES: Tuesday 14 th July – Sunday 18 th July (7:30 pm shows)
RUN TIME: 60 Minutes
VENUE: The Lion and Unicorn Theatre, Kentish Town


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