Dirty White Boy, adapted from Clayton Littlewood’s blog and book of the same name, recounts the tales of real Sohoites he encountered whilst running his shop on Old Compton Street in the mid-noughties.
The stories are interesting enough and well narrated. They are brought to life superbly by David Benson, who masters each character and is highly believable as each one. The problem is that he is playing opposite Clayton Littlewood, who plays himself.
The first thing that we hear as the play opens is Littlewood proclaim that he is a blogger rather than an actor. Fair enough, they are his stories and it is his play. However, his shortcomings as a performer cannot be glossed over and the energy of the play suffers for it - there are times when the chemistry created by Benson just feels wasted. It's interesting to see the author on stage but not entertaining.
The musical interludes are also a little distracting. Just as we reach a dramatic peak, Alexis Gerred appears on stage to perform some numbers that might have been taken from Now (That’s what I call music) 1987. On a couple of occasions this seems quite comic but overall these intrusions are too long, too frequent and clichéd. Gerred is solid on his West End debut but the play would be better balanced if his role had been allowed greater variety.
Although this is the second time Dirty White Boy has played at Trafalgar Studios (the first being in July last year) it still has an experimental feel. The stories told do feel a little predictable at times but there are moving moments and a couple of genuine belly laughs along the way.