Recently we saw Bleach, a play by the British Exist Theatre group. The play was performed in the Compagnie theatre as part of the Amsterdam Fringe Festival. This festival showcases every september upcoming theatre talent in unexpected locations around the city during eleven days. A great way to discover international talent and this play was a good example of that.
Bleach, the story
Bleach tells the story of Tyler Everett, a rent boy in London. It shows how he became a rent boy and how he works. It also tells about the different kind of clients Tyler services during his work. But the main part of the story is a dramatic turn of events during his work, which makes him need the bleach of the title and which leads up to a dark ending. Most of all these events focus the story on the moral challenges for Tyler and how he justifies his work and his role in the events.
Bleach, the play
The play is well written. It is a joy to listen to the story, but it is also difficult to feel an emotional connection with the character. That is because the text is mostly descriptive. Since it is a solo performance, that means that the actor explains what is happening or has happened. Only on a few occasions can he play out what actually happens in a certain setting. And in that case he only stays in character as Tyler and that makes it somewhat one-dimensional.
The staging of the play by Bethan Francis is simple, but very effective. They make good use of a limited space and minimal set of props. Despite that you get a feeling that you travel with the actor from place to place. Words and a few props really paint the different scenes in this play.
The performance of the actor (Dan Ireland-Reeves) was outstanding. With great timing and use of the text he was able to portray the swagger, the posturing and the vulnerability of Tyler Everett. That made it a flawless and fast paced performance of about 80 minutes.
All in all a good play that is well worth the visit. Despite the one-dimensional side of the script it is a play that entertains, maybe even touches you and certainly makes you think. Check out the website of the theatre group to see if they perform in your neighborhood. Or just get into contact with them to see if you can get them over to you local theatre.
Bleach by British Theatre Exist: ♦♦♦♦◊ (4 out of 5 diamonds)