Guilt and Shame: Going Straight at the Soho
Upstairs at Soho Theatre is a great space that showcases the work of emerging writers and allows them a platform to explore ideas. It’s great that there are well-respected spaces like this in the London theatre world, where we are able as audiences to explore new approaches to theatre.
Actors and playwrights Rob Cawsey and Gabriel Bisset-Smith have a natural and easy-flowing chemistry that makes you feel immediately at ease in their presence. The pair are likeable and friendly and you feel that they are having as much fun as you are throughout the show. The continuous clever asides and breaking of the fourth wall sets you up to feel as though they are sharing an intimate, lengthy private joke, but that you are in on it.
While the play is substantially silly, they also explore issues of guilt and shame, as the title suggests, and amid it all they manage to take you on a rambling journey through the variety of emotions one experiences when coming to terms with sexuality, acceptance and perhaps most importantly, friendship.
“The Church of Clarksianity” and its six steps to becoming a “real man” is the the base for the show, but they use a variety of techniques to tell their stories including flashbacks, song, questionable dance routines, voice-overs and a lot of audience participation. The play feels as though it is not taking itself too seriously, but while there is a certain amount of improvisation as they respond to the audience’s reactions, you believe that every decision is well thought through and beneficial to the overall story.
The late start time meant the audience was sufficiently lubricated, and happy to get on board with whatever the guys threw out. Several audience members were pulled up onstage and there was a sense of encouragement, both from the actors and the audience, and those participants became an integral part of the show.
It is not a piece for the faint-hearted and those easily offended might find the no-holds-barred approach perhaps a bit abrasive, but it is all with the best intentions, and that sense of fun opens up the audience to the deeper messages they are exploring in the piece. It is this fast-paced storytelling that keeps your attention, while cleverly reflecting the range of emotions both characters experience as they process their sexuality.
Guilt and Shame: Going Straight is on at Soho Theatre until 18th October 2014, for further information or to book visit here.