At Old Red Lion (London)
February is LGBT History Month, when we celebrate diversity whilst remembering the hardship of the past. Many people in the community struggled during their formative years, in times without social media and instant internet access as a support system to let them know they weren’t alone. These early, teenage, angst-riddled emotions are perfectly encapsulated in Ben SantaMaria’s play Really Want to Hurt Me at the Old Red Lion
The piece begins right in the heart of the story of a young man, with his bully-filled life and constant confusion about who he is. Throughout the next 80 minutes we are taken on a journey covering the next three years; from highlights and comic moments to some of the darkest depths of his psyche. Every moment is entwined beautifully by the eighties backing track that becomes his strength, solace and salvation. Music reflecting his personality from his pop-picking days of Culture Club and Eurythmics, moving into his alternative later teens, with more moody, indie bands like The Smiths and Cocteau Twins.
Refreshingly, although the AIDS crisis of the 80’s in mentioned – as it should be – the play doesn’t dwell too much on this and remains true to the world of the teenage boy and his personal understanding of the world around him.
A charming Ryan Price holds the audience through every turn and is performed with earnest and feeling, delivering tender moments and witty quips expertly. Directed by writer SantaMaria he uses the space with skill as he takes us down the road of his experience, sometimes including episodes of the past and sometimes pushes to hopes of the future.
The play is gentle and, although it flips nicely from funny moments to heart-wrenching, the dynamic isn’t what you could necessarily call a roller coaster ride. There are no big reveals or shocks, the story is one that many of us may have felt and indeed I would think that most of us can relate to at least one moment in the piece.
Overall this play is pure honesty – plain and simple. It is packed to the brim with nostalgia and memories that will twang on your heart-strings.
This show has now closed, but follow @bensantamaria over on Twitter for details of developments of this piece.
Review: © PB 2018