Last Friday night Stuart and I went to the Kings Head Theatre in glitzy Islington to see Charles Entsie’s sexy two-hander No Strings Attached.
Two men (simply called Man and Boy) have just had sex in car. In a car park. And we pick up the ‘action’ in the awkward moments afterwards. Usual protocol at this point would dictate that they part ways. But they don’t.
Things start off slow as the characters try to work each other out whilst keeping their cards very close to their chests but as the play rolls along and the tension ramps up they start to lower their guard. Yet are either of them really truthful with the other? It is clear why Charles’ script won the Adrian Pagan Award for New Writing. It is a terrific achievement for a new writer to have a dramatic piece of dialogue that hits so many beats whilst never dropping the atmosphere for a second.
Shak Benjamin, as Boy, is mesmerising to watch. He plays Boy with the edge of a guy from the ‘hood and from the streets. We can truly see every thought that crosses his mind, and in the moments where he lets his vulnerability slip we can see how afraid he is and the actions that those emotions lead him to.
Razak Osman completes the cast as Man. Emotionally, Razak has further to go and he really pulls it off. Wanting to share his life outside of his car with Boy, while being careful to not reveal too much, the conflict inside Razak is clear to see. The chemistry between the two performers was electric and it was impossible to look away – even when the characters are distracted by noises from outside the safety of their car our eyes were glued, through the windscreen, to the pair inside.
On the face of it the play should be a simple production to mount as it only requires two actors. However, the difficulty arises when you realise nearly the entire show takes place inside a car. Logistically this would normally present a challenge, yet the creative team did a fabulous job in creating a makeshift car out of scaffolding which was affixed with headlights, exhaust, reclining car seats, opening doors and much more. The fact they had all these working parts surrounding their actors while keeping the performers visible is a testament to the work that went into this production so a massive congratulations should go to set designer Sorcha Corcoran and lighting designer and production manager Richard Lambert for the impressive staging.
Well done to all involved.