A Guide for the Homesick at Trafalgar Studios
From the moment the audience enters the theatre they are greeted by the fuzzy sound of a television set blaring out a foreign show. We are automatically on our guard and conscious of our every move as we enter this intimate space – Studio 2 at Trafalgar Studios on Whitehall. This is no accident. Jonathan O’Boyle, director of the play, embraces the intimate setting, which only enhances the tension of this thriller-come-romance. A Guide for the Homesick is an intense and compact piece of theatre that depicts the story of two strangers who meet at an Amsterdam hotel. Jeremy, portrayed by Douglas Booth, is a Harvard medical graduate who has worked in Uganda as a nurse, stopping in Amsterdam on his way back home to the USA. Reluctant to address and admit to his sexuality, he is by all accounts a stark contrast to Teddy, played by Clifford Samuel. Although not in denial about the fact he is gay, this character also has secrets to hide.
Set designer Jason Denvir and lighting designer Nic Farman have both made for a snug setting, though not in the way of cosiness and comfort but rather discomfort and claustrophobia, which radiates out of Ken Urban’s writing and also through the penetrating performances of the actors. The Riot Club actor Douglas Booth returns to Trafalgar Studios for his second ever play. Following his 2017 theatre debut in Speech and Debate, Booth is confident and assured in his role. Co-star Clifford Samuel warrants special merit for his intense, believable performance, offering warmth and humour alongside deep emotion. Transitioning between time periods and characters, both actors seem effortless in their multi-rolling.
“Let’s not be alone tonight” is one of the standout pieces of dialogue, emphatic for the characters concerned but also representative of the audience, who, in such an intimate space, will share in something powerful, memorable and unique. Whilst it would be nice for such a raw and hard-hitting piece to be performed on a larger stage, Trafalgar Studios serves as part of the overall experience.
Photo: Helen Maybanks
A Guide for the Homesick is at Trafalgar Studios from 16th October until 24th November 2018. Book your tickets here.