WORTH A LOOK?: ****
WHEN?: Saturday 13 November 2021 (matinee), runs to 13 November RUNTIME: 60 minutes (no interval)
Time spent alone in the country writing during lockdown has been well spent by West End musical theatre and TV star Bennett who has written this 60-minute monologue.
- Read on for reasons including how we spotted actors Fra Fee and Simon Callow
It begins with the actor bidding farewell to his boyfriend who is working in the US for 6 months while Bennett leaves London to relocate in an Oxfordshire village.
A spiral of writing, baking banana bread, befriending an elderly neighbour and drinking ensues leaving Bennett contemplating childhood bullying, the refuge found in singing and a testicular cancer diagnosis at just 23 years old all blurring into 1.
If Bennett looks familiar you may have seen him play the husband to Ben Aldridge’s 1st gay lead detective in ITV’s recent superlative The Long Call.
Theatregoers will find him familiar from Carousel most recently at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre but also Jesus Christ Superstar at the same venue, Kiss Of The Spiderwoman at the Menier and The ViewUpstairs at Soho Theatre.
We’re always impressed by actors with the confidence and charisma to have the audience in the palm of their hands during monologues and the fact that Bennett wrote this makes it all the more impressive.
We especially enjoyed the comedy around the inspiration for singing found in Sister Act 2 and the description of craftsy women taking their hobby super seriously.
Ann, the elderly neighbour and landlady, is nicely drawn and it is her concern for her tenant which helps him realise that although he is spending 6 months alone there are others who care for him.
There was also comedy to be found in the description of his BFF Siobhan and their shared passion for many things including flute and Irish dancing.
As we leave the venue we see fellow performers Fra Fee and Simon Callow and we like to think that this tale of triumph over the adversity of lockdown will strike a chord with a community largely unable to work from home or seek furlough.
Bennett proves here he is a versatile performer who can add writing to his CV after this successful attempt to articulate the paranoia, helplessness and inability to escape from one’s own past that lockdown inevitably brought for many.
If that all sounds very serious, we did laugh a lot and Bennett’s magnetism made for a compelling and worthwhile hour in his company.
This piece, which verges on spoken word poetry at points, closed at the Turbine last night but is so impressive we’d like to see it have a life and be performed again either here or at another venue in the future to help people begin to make sense of the last 2 years.