Tuesday, 19 March 2019

REVIEW: Undetectable at the King’s Head Theatre

Undetectable sees tour de force team of Tom Wright with Rikki Beadle-Blair MBE once again, hot off Tom’s successful debut with ‘My Dad’s Gap Year’ at the Park Theatre in February, and with success! Hunky Lex and fem twink Bradley are falling for each other, and after three months, Lex decides tonight’s the night for sex, but unearths intricate emotions, moral dilemmas and personal demons that both he and Bradley take to bed with them. A two hander set in the thrust theatre sees them exploring insecurities and LGBTQ stereotypes in a highly entertaining manner.

Tom Wright’s play thrives when adding wit and naturalistic humour to some fairly taboo topics, ranging from masculinity, race, HIV, body dysmorphia to uses of the word queer. Tom’s writing style is very naturalistic and really reflects conversation in the gay scene, with stand out lines including ‘“Why don’t we play a game” “Said every serial killer ever”’ and ‘When I laugh too much I fart’, bringing real roundedness and likeability to both characters. For me personally however, the play had a couple of stumbling areas. I felt the nudity didn’t add anything extra to the play (although both Freddie Hogan and Lewis Brown are certainly pleasing to the eye), and risked cheapening the play. Also when delving deeply into both characters’ backstories later on, the style of the play completely changed to spoken word storytelling, which was jarring to the world that had been created before. That said Richard Lambert’s lighting and Holly Buhagiar’s sound design truly shone in this moment with its intricacy and technicality highlighting the change in style.

Rikki Beadle-Blair MBE’s direction makes sure that the play is constantly moving, using all the stage naturally, so that no audience member feels like they’re missing out on the action. There is never a static moment, which works well, although at times I wonder if for such a natural play it would be nice to have a longer moment of stillness. 

Of course Beadle-Blair MBE’s direction is complemented by the beautiful impulsivity of the actors, who work with fantastic chemistry together. A particular stand out for me goes to Freddie Hogan as Lex, giving a real naturalism and grounded performance, whilst tackling vulnerability with the utmost honesty, and when he pleads for Bradley to stay it is one of the most
delicate pieces of acting all night! Lewis Brown as Bradley brings much more flair and flamboyance, which is a great contrast to Freddie’s straight-acting Lex, although at times it felt like it verged on being too much.

Overall, Undetectable opens up a very important conversation, challenges stereotypes and states that what is common perception is not always the case, whilst being told in a very fun, witty and raunchy manner. Certainly a good night out!

Review by Adam Yorke

Rating: ★★★★

Seat: C6 | Price of Ticket: £25

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