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Review - Ben Target: Lorenzo

Updated: Oct 1, 2023

Soho Theatre

Playing until: 14th October 2023

Writer: Ben Target

Directors: Adam Brace, Lee Griffiths

Set Designer: Tom Hartshorne for Morice Designs

Review {AD - PR Invite}

Ben Target, sometimes known in the industry as Ben Targé, moved in with Lorenzo Wong as a carer after Lorenzo suffered a stroke in 2020. Born in Hong Kong, Lorenzo was an architect that was taken in by Ben’s grandparents in the 60s and had effectively become an uncle to him since. Ben describes his relationship with Lorenzo, their closeness when he was small and then how they grew distant. Nonetheless, Ben looks back at the silly times he had with Lorenzo with fondness and the often-unexpected words of wisdom in almost any topic.

Almost right off the bat, the audience is asked to answer an interesting question, “what’s your fantasy death?” Not a common question you see at the start of a comedy, but this is expertly woven in by Ben as he describes his reunion with Lorenzo, their daily interactions and well laid out plan for each week, but upon hearing Ben’s side of the story, it seems these didn't usually go according to plan. At the tender of 80s, the immediate thought I had was that Lorenzo had lost the plot, and that is why he is behaving the way he did. However, through Ben’s storytelling, it seems like Lorenzo had always been a bit unpredictable, and the line between genuinely accidents and deliberate pranks was extremely blurred. There wasn’t a moment of pause, Ben goes from one comic moment to the next, never shying away from the challenges associated with caring for an elderly and close relative.

One of the hardest moments was when Lorenzo overheard Ben’s frustration over caring for him and that he wished that he would just die, which Ben clearly regretted saying. However, Lorenzo was able to exact his revenge soon after by sending Ben on a fool’s errand. Through their many shared stories, often involving genitals and banter, the audience gets to know Lorenzo and the impact he has had on Ben. This makes the ending all the more tearjerking following Lorenzo’s passing and the clear shift in Ben’s expressions and the tears in his eyes.

The carpentry table serves as a fantastic and multifunction prop for this show, simultaneously providing a basic visual of the house Ben grew up in with Lorenzo, and also allowing Ben to do some basic carpentry, one of Lorenzo’s passions, and also how the eastern and western cultures differ through the way they carve wood.

This comedy is a homage to Lorenzo, his eccentricity, accomplishments and the deeply meaningful lessons he imparted upon those he influenced. Though end-of-life care is not something we typically associate with comedy shows, Ben has managed to make this work, simultaneously paying respect to and making fun of the uncle he loved.

N.B. If anybody is interested, my fantasy death is being swallowed and digested whole by a blue while fully anaesthetised.

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