STRANGERS IN BETWEEN
By Tommy Murphy.
Trafalgar Studio 2, 14 Whitehall, London SW1A 2DY to 3 February 2018.
Mon-Sat 7.45pm Mat Thu & Sat 3pm.
Runs 1hr 45 mins One interval.
TICKETS: 0844 871 7632
Review: William Russell 12 January
Little boy lost
When actors rise above their material it can be exciting and the cast of this play about a teenage Australian gay from the outback lost in King’s Cross, Sydney’s red light district, do just that. The play by the Australian writer Tommy Murphy was a hit at the fringe theatre the King’s Head in 2016 and now gets a West End stint justified not so much by the play but by the performances of its cast of three.
Seventeen year old Shane (Roly Botha) has fled his home town of Galveston for reasons he never quite spells out, and is working in a bottle shop. Over strung, useless, incapable of operating the till but anxious to please, lonely he insists he is not gay or maybe yes he is. One Muscle Mary customer, Will (Dan Hunter) rather fancies him and they have a fling, a mistake because the Shanes of this world are always bad news and cling past their sell by date thinking they have found love, the Wills are not necessarily disease free.
The hapless Shane gets genital warts and has no idea what to do. The other customer, Peter (Stephen Connery-Brown), a middle-aged queen inevitably with a tongue takes a fancy to the lad and, although there is a moment when they might have done something, he is too worldly wise to make the running. It is the clinging Shane, who is only 15 we learn, who tries it on. Shane’s apparently abusive and feared elder brother Ben (Dan Hunter doing an impressive double act switching from Ben to Will in full view) turns up looking for him and we learn what happened back there in Galveston. It is a moving and sad story about abused young people.
Shane’s story is told in a series of short and sometimes scrappy scenes. The problem, for me at least, is Shane is hard to care about, even when why he is so flakey and in such a plight is revealed. That said the performances are first rate and the piece has been well directed by Adam Spreadbury-Maher, the King’s Head artistic director.
Standing ovations for the actors then, but firmly on one’s seat for the play is the verdict,
Shane: Roly Botha.
Peter: Stephen Connery-Brown.
Will/Ben: Dan Hunter.
Director: Adam Spreadbury –Maher.
Associate Director: Jennifer Davis.
Designer: Becky-Dee Trevenen.
Lighting Designer: Richard Williamson.
Sound Designer: Jonathan McLeod.