Bacon by Sophie Swithinbank. The Finborough Theatre, 118 Finborough Road, London SW10 to 2 April 2022. 4****. William Russell.

Late in the day, but I had to miss the press night and having since then read the reviews decided this award winning drama was one not to have missed – same goes for the Telegraph so I was in good company. Directed by Matthew Iliffe, who has secured tremendous performances from his cast, it is a moving tale told by Mark ( Corey Montagu-Sholay) about how as a 15 year old at a new school he met Darren (William Robinson), in his class, the school tear away and, like him, the child of a single parent family. The difference is Mark’s Mum dotes on him, Darren’s Dad is a bully and beats him up. Mark is looking back at what happened, at the way their relationship had its ups and downs – the brilliant set consists of a see saw on which all the action takes place – and how life has treated them. They fall in love. But nothing is simple. Montagu-Sholay captures all Mark’s uncertainties, his need for friends, his devotion to his dog Barney, and how he is petted and fussed over by his Mum who, he thinks, does not know that he is gay, while Robinson is every inch the braggart, the bully because the only thing he knows is how to take revenge on others for what is happening to him. They are both extremely good and Matthew Iliffe directs with the surest of touches. Sophie Swithinbank has a keen ear for how they would talk and creates a drama that is funny, sad, full of unexpected moments of violence and she has provided a resolution that is both surprising but true to the tale told by Mark. They meet four years later after Darren comes out of juvenile prison, seeks forgiveness and tries to rekindle what had happened before. One boy has survived, one has not. Very few plays are unmissable, but this would have been on not to have missed and, in the event, I did not. The Finborough has returned to live performances after the two year pandemic hiatus with a remarkable play.

Mark: Corey Montague-Sholay.
Darren: William Robinson.

Director: Matthew Iliffe.
Set & Costume Designer: Natalie Johnson.
Lighting Designer: Ryan Joseph Stafford.
Sound Engineer: Mwen.
Intimacy Director: Jess Tucker Boyd.
Production Photography: Ali Wright.

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