Somewhere Beneath It All, A Small Fire Burns Still
Monologue that’s less than straightforward
This article is from 2011.
'This is true.’ Comedian Phil Nichol implores you to believe in his story midway through this experimental monologue, seemingly trying to inject a moment of clarity into a deliberately fractured and confusing play from Royal Court young writer Dave Florez. Somewhere Beneath It All … wilfully exploits its own harrowing subject matter to play with audience expectations and emotions. In fact it’s hard to know what to believe, if anything, about Nichol’s attempt to portray the character of Kevin: a damaged young man, infatuated with a Lithuanian waitress, struggling with oscillating impulses, some tender, and some violent.
This is a piece that is written for Nichol, and his slightly wobbly route through the script’s tightly crafted wordplay consciously allows room for the person to seep through the character. But Nichol isn’t himself either – he’s a bigoted, larger-than-life version of an already extroverted comic. The play’s beautiful title shows the two ways in which the work can be received: as genuinely compassionate and moving, or as smug and schmaltzy poetic trickery. Nichol’s performance suggests the latter, which makes this a highly interesting but ultimately unfulfilling play.
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