The first thing to hit me as I took my seat in a basement in London’s glamorous Haggerston was a wave of nostalgia. I haven’t seen an overhead projector since I was at school watching Mr Jones the physics teacher draw electrical circuits on one, the machine’s whirring fan soundtracking my education.
In 6 Conversations, the projector is used as the primary light source, an unusual but practical design which also allows a succession of words to be projected against the back of the set, headlining the play’s scenes.
Charting a gay man’s journey from adolescence to something approaching adulthood, Sasha Kane’s play is composed of the six conversations of the title: six independent scenes which offer snapshots of the central character Owen.
Kane himself plays Owen, with Daniel Walters taking on all the other roles, and both give solid, committed performances. They are perhaps a little restrained by the small stage area and the set design: with every scene consisting of the two actors sat chatting across a table, there isn’t a great deal of variety over the course of the play.
The conversations we’re presented with take place between Owen and his mother, his father, and his ex-boyfriend (possibly boyfriends, plural – I wasn’t sure). We start with Owen and an ex quarrelling over an STI test, then we meet Owen’s mother, an overbearing woman who’s unapologetic about having had her son sectioned when he was a vulnerable youth.
Next up is Owen’s father. This scene stands out, as Owen is 14 years old here, and Kane invests this youngest incarnation with a bouncy energy that’s immediately relatable – we were all twats in our teens, weren’t we?
The remaining scenes show us another ex-boyfriend scene, then Mum telling Owen that Dad is dead, and finally a conversation with said dead Dad, who seems surprisingly unchanged by this life-ending experience.
Kane’s script captures a certain gay archetype in the needy, demanding Owen, and he’s clearly aware that drama requires conflict, as each of the arguments played out ends with a crescendo of emotion.
It’s not quite clear what 6 Conversations is intended to leave the audience with – perhaps a reminder that family and romantic relationships are difficult to navigate? But Owen is an interesting character to spend time with – engaging and realistically flawed. When the glowing bulb of the projector was finally extinguished, I found myself hoping that Owen’s future would see him grow out of his sense of entitlement, and towards becoming a more rounded and empathetic person.
© N.Myles 2019
This performance has now closed. Follow @TheGloryLondon for future performances.