Two different but related duologues make up the latest offering from Above The Stag, Boys Plays. Exploriong themes of hero worship and male relationships, Boys’ Play and Extra Virgin seem to be presented as two sides of a rather strangely shaped coin.
Boys’ Play focuses on the confused relationship between Tom (Alexander Pritchett) and Joe (Matt Brinkler), a pair of pubescent teens who, on a night away in a forest, reveal their teenage angst, desires and fears. The play however lacks a certain focus, always veering on the edge of revealing something pivotal to the storyline but never quite getting there.
The sci-fi ending is one step too far into the surreal, leaving no clear sense of the real point of the piece. This lack of focus and real foundation prevent Pritchett and Brinkler’s on-stage chemistry from developing into anything truly believeable.
More typical for Above the Stag is Extra Virgin, which delves into what starts off as a one night encounter between Elliott (Freddie Hogan) and Noah (Kane John Scott) but reveals a far more sinister history. Both Scott and Hogan deliver powerful performances in what is an emotional battle of pasts. The script treads the delicate line of being funny, shocking and poignant, successfully achieving all three.
This being said however, the length of the play necessitates an unnaturally fast emotional progression, with Elliott especially morphing from tough to tears within a matter of moments. Whilst the play takes us through an intriguing emotional story, the theme itself seems somehow overexplored, providing little in truly original content.
While an interesting evening, this double bill misses the mark for truly powerful theatre by presenting two plays with unforcused aims. Being by turns too fraught or too formulaic they don’t leave you thinking too much about any real truth.
- Rowena Betts