Free and Proud (3 stars)

This article is from 2018

Free and Proud

A potentially emotive tale of a love's life

With a minimalist dramaturgy that does little than allow the two performers to present the script's monologues and duologues, Free and Proud follows the relationship of Hakeem (Faaiz Mbelizi) and Jeremy (Michael Gilbert). Hakeem is respectable, educated and controlling – although this comes across more as precise and attentive rather than the intrusiveness that Jeremy claims – while Jeremy is flightier, less successful but more dedicated to life's pleasures. Touching on the struggles of the educational migrant, as Hakeem is torn between his Nigerian family and the success of the USA, the difficulties of domesticity and the abiding affection between the two men despite romantic challenges, Free and Proud is a strong script, well performed but lacking the vision to move beyond a polite and workmanlike production.

The men's story is told chronologically, and the most moving moments are between Hakeem and his dying father: Jeremy tends to come across as shallow, which worries him, yet he becomes increasingly passive as the relationship moves on. Hakeem, developing his academic career is clearly growing past his husband, but struggles to keep him until trust is finally broken.

Charles Gershman's script evokes both the mundanity and drama of marriage, but the drama does come from a single disaster rather than the mundane interplay of the two men's hopes and dreams. A solid and sometimes moving, Free and Proud is not quite developed enough to take advantage of the performers and the nuances that are left undeveloped in the script.

Assembly George Square, until 27 Aug, 2.55pm, £13 (£11)

Free and Proud

  • 3 stars

Em-Lou Productions and Snowy Owl Hakeem is Nigerian in America. Jeremy is white and privileged. When disaster hits, they journey into the past to make sense of the present. A searing exploration of a modern marriage from a multi award-winning company. Derek Award for Best Overseas Play (for The Waiting Game). ‘A stunning…