A Boy Named Sue
Sharply intelligent play is a powerful plea for tolerance
Britain is crumbling, and the struggle for survival is gathering apace. As another gay club shuts down, young men's lives overlap in unexpected ways. Bristol-based writer Bertie Darrell's three blistering monologues trace the zig-zagging paths of bolshy Ian (Oseloka Obi), vulnerable teenage runaway Louie (Charlie James), and the flamboyant Sid, aka Sue (Jack Harrold) who has retreated into his house. The stories converge as a triangle of need and aggression – all three men mask their pain through sex and the desire to be loved.
The cyclical dialogue of scrubbing skin clean, ritual and sacrifice is suggestive of a search for spirituality in an uncaring world. All three performances are beautifully directed by Claudia Lee, who brings out complexities from each – none are victims but instead full of focus and self-determination. Harrold in particular is superb. His Sue is a wisp, yet so very present, always one raised eyebrow away from imploding. Nothing is soft soaped, answers are proffered, but the tentative resolutions each character undergoes suggest a future.
Visceral and thoughtful, with many haunting moments, this is a sharply intelligent play which peels away the veneers of social respectability, revealing the humanity. Darrell's script is a revelation.
C nova, until 29 Aug (not 15), 6.25pm, £8.50–£10.50 (£6.50–£8.50).