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Review - Boys on the verge of tears

Soho Theatre

Playing until 18th May 2024




Photo credit: Marc Brenner

Review {Ad-PR Gifted}

Boys on the Verge of Tears offers an intimate and poignant exploration of masculinity and the challenges of growing up. Set entirely in the men's restroom, the play follows a whole host of characters, from a father and his young son, teenagers rebelling against life at school and finally a step-father and step-son navigating a challenging and complex situation.

 

The cast of 5, Matthew Beard, David Carlyle, Calvin Demba, Tom Espiner and Maanuv Thiara, manage to play over 50 characters. They have the talent to portray each with the depth and seamless transition between roles and ages. Each character is distinct in their vulnerability and bravado, and the pace of the production allows the audience to get a taste of each of the personas, whilst keeping us engaged. There is perfect equilibrium between the humour and raw emotions of this production, which also allows it to be grounded in realism. The narratives cover men across all ages, weaving together their differing experiences from fun, lighthearted interactions through to moving and challenging moments.

 

Ashley Martin-Davis has done an outstanding job with the set and costume, bringing a grimey men’s toilet to life. It is kitted out with urinals, hand dryers, toilet cubicles and even has harsh cold lighting. The setting feels like a safe space for all of the men who occupy it at a snapshot in their lives, and we are reminded that it is still a public place when characters and narratives transition and collide. It is a place for confession, and overtime, we see characters open up whilst sitting on a plastic toilet bin. The sound effects are not to be overlooked and they provide a realistic soundscape, from running water to toilet flushing. They really bring the set to life and often make pauses in the dialogue comical and light hearted.

 

One of the most compelling aspects of Boys on the Verge of Tears is the unflinching exploration of the emotional landscape of men. The play does not shy away from the vulnerability of the characters, and presents their hopes, fears and insecurities. The emotional honestly provides an insight into the characters’ lives, allowing the audience to form a connection and empathise with them. The play also explores themes such as mental health, identity, and the social construction of masculinity. It invites the audience to reflect on the rigid expectations placed on young men and the courage it takes to defy them.

This is a compelling and well-crafted story, capturing the complexities of masculinity from childhood through adolescence and into adulthood, and a small glimpse into public toilet confessions.


Creatives

Writer: Sam Grabiner

Director: James Macdonald

Set and Costume Design: Ashley Martin-Davis

Lighting Design: Peter Mumford

Sound Design: Ian Dickinson

Costume Design: Zoë Thomas-Webb

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