This new American play by Ken Urban has a simple yet seductive premise.
Two male strangers Jeremy (Douglas Booth) and Teddy (Clifford Samuel) chance upon each other in a hotel bar in Amsterdam.
Holed up in an anonymous hotel room far from home and away from the prying eyes and judgement of the outside world, the two men drink beer, talk, confess, fight, seek comfort and ultimately redemption. It’s an electric 80mins that explores masculinity, love, friendship and homosexuality.
This is one of those incredibly well structured plays which although predictable in format doesn’t fail to entertain as the revelations start to fly thick and fast. Jeremy is no aimless backpacker but a Harvard graduate who is reluctantly heading home after working at a medical clinic in Uganda.
His story is one of guilt and torment involving Nicholas, a gay Ugandan man against the backdrop Uganda’s terrifying anti-gay uprising. By turns Teddy is on a stag do from hell, where the stag, his best friend Eddie, has been missing for four days.
The claustrophobic hotel room is thick with remorse, fear and the human need to take comfort in a strangers arms.
After a wobbly start the actors settle in to their roles and their intimacy and trust of each other is wonderful to watch. As Jeremy, Booth suggests a nervy and brittle persona which might snap any moment.
Behind the haunted smile something has been damaged beyond repair. Booth trusts his changeable energy and pitches it just right.
As Teddy, Samuel portrays a character on the rack. Both actors play other roles but special mention has to go to Samuel’s portrayal of Nicholas.
It’s a beautiful performance that is by turns funny, touching and in the end horrifying. It’s a multi layered performance of charisma and deep rooted remorse and guilt.
Director Jonathan O’Boyle trusts the actors to simply exist in this sterile hotel room but then uses his customary theatrical flair to great effect in the closing moments of the play.
This is a thrilling, highly entertaining and moving examination of males and sexuality in all its fascinating complexity. Don’t miss it.
Rating – 4*
A Guide For The Homesick plays at Trafalgar Studios until November 24th
Words by Matthew Hyde