Two people with very different backgrounds. A meeting in a car. Money for sex. This is how Boy (Shak Benjamin) and Man (Razak Osman) meet.
No strings attached, Charles Hantsie’s debut play, marks the return of the King’s Head Theatre to live performances after 436 days, in a new pop-up venue in Islington Square.
The play, directed by Aileen Gonsalves, takes us to an abandoned garage in Peckham, where Boy and Man have a clandestine encounter.
Inevitably, after the sex, the two guys start to share some of their secrets, and they understand that, despite the different lifestyle, age and background, they are not so different, after all.
Boy is alone: he is a strong-minded young guy, but his sexuality has created a wall between himself and his family. Man is lonely: he has a nice car, a lot of money, a good job (or at least he had, as he has just lost it because of the recession), two kids, but his loneliness is unbearable and he just wants to feel alive again.
The car becomes the metaphor of emptiness and loneliness: “We all die” says Man: “So why do not live?”
There is a genuine authenticity in the two actors: we can see the emotional isolation of the men, their feeling of not belonging. And it is something that many gay men experience, especially now that social media and meeting apps like Grindr feed the existing insecurities, and the feelings of inadequacy.
There is little hope in the play, no happily ever after, but just a question: is regret worse than fear?
It runs until 19 June 2021.
Photo: Lidia Crisafulli