Writer: Ian Townsend
Director: Martha Simon
Reviewer: Tracey Lowe
The Public Reviews Rating:
Ben is lonely and bored, so he meets up with a man he has spoken to online, Al. Naturally, Al takes Ben to A&E, perfect first date territory. Al then becomes distance, but sees something he likes in Henry, Ben’s half-brother with special needs. As Ben continues to chase Al, Al continues to go home to his girlfriend, trying to figure out the world.
All the Bens is a great three-hander, with no sets or props, aside from mobile phones. All scenes and situations are created by the three extremely talented actors, and the stage never feels bare or empty. The actors are constantly moving, but not to the point that makes the audience feel exhausted.
The two great strengths of this piece are the writing and the actors. The script is darkly hilarious, and there are some wonderful lines in there. The language is quite coarse, innovatively so in places, but it never feels false or superfluous. Thomas McGarva is deeply unsettling as the troubled Al, but also with a streak of bleak humour. Dominic Vulliamy also does a great job as Ben, who is very likable and relatable. However, it is Daniel McCann who has the greatest challenge, playing Henry, a young man with learning difficulties. But McCann plays him with great sensitivity, allowing the audience to look past Henry’s problems and see a wonderful, funny, warm character.
Yet again, the 24:7 Theatre Festival provides the city with a great piece of new writing that is funny, witty and engrossing. Dealing with issues of sexuality, confusion and general ennui, this is a valuable and accessible play.
Runs until 27th July
All the Bens, 24:7 Theatre Festival – New Century House, Manchester,