BWW Review: COMING CLEAN, Trafalgar Studios
The King's Head Theatre continues its track record of moving shows from Islington to the West End, with the arrival of Kevin Elyot's drama of 80s polyamory. In this two act play the ethics of a modern relationship are questioned. There are conflicts in morality and human decency, providing no clear answer as to what is right.
Here we find a couple that are content in hooking up with other men, as long as it remains a one-night thing and not something that lingers in the air like a bad smell. Life's good, and they happily in their flat in Kentish Town. That is until their relationship is tested by the arrival of an attractive, young and gay male, who the pair employ as their cleaner. But the boy does more than clean dust the shelves. Things get murky and loyalties are tested.
Having been put off the King's Head work in the past - due to its majority staging of somewhat mediocre plays that feel all too much the same - it's a pleasant surprise to be treated to this production. It has a lot of heart to it. There are dilemmas that need to be solved and it makes for a highly watchable piece of theatre. The cast are all superb and have perfectly encapsulated the era the play's set in. Their mannerisms are cleverly planned out to reflect the people that circulated around that time.
This could potentially be a bad play in the wrong hands. That's not because of the writing, but because of how much work there is to do on it. There are lots that can go wrong, or seem a bit flimsy. However, under Adam Spreadbury-Maher's direction, the action is fantastic. He has such a fine eye for detail, carefully unpicking each dramatic moment, allowing it to linger for just the right amount of time.
Each actor pulls out fantastic performances; the cogs are really turning in their brains and it results in some genuine authentic moments. The intimacy of the Trafalgar Studios 2 space works perfectly here. You really do feel like you're in the lovers flat, acting as voyeurs to the messy domestic antics. It's claustrophobic, and you feel like you want to get out, but you also desperately want to stay and observe the drama.
The play delivers. Elyot's writing packs many gut punching one-liners, which leave you with your jaw dropped in shock. But it also provides some fantastic comedic moments, which are delivered with a perfect precision. All in all, this is an excellent success.
Photo: Ali Wright