REVIEW: In Conversation with Graham Norton (The Hope Theatre) ★★★★

In Conversation with Graham Norton was first staged at The Hope Theatre in September 2018 for a short, sell out run. The debut play by Simon Perrott, directed by Joseph Winters, is back at The Hope Theatre for a longer run this month with Jay Parsons returning to the role of Mark for this one man, one act play.

Mark is seventeen, he has no friends, his parents don’t understand him and he and his twin sister have a mutual hatred of each other. He’s confused about his feelings for a man he saw on the tube. So far, so teenage. Mark decides that the best person to talk to about his situation is Graham Norton. Graham talks to people for a living and always seems to have good advice. Maybe he can help. But Mark only leaves his bedroom to go to school, so he needs to make do with a framed photo of Graham; Norton himself does not appear in the show.

The audience listens in as Mark talks to Graham about his dreams, his worries about sex, his sexuality, family and life at school, as well as sharing why the cat won’t come near him anymore. He shares his anxieties and fantasies and imagines Graham’s responses. This is a no holds barred look into a teenager’s mind that feels honest and raw.

Jay Parsons gives a convincing performance as Mark, isolated from the world around him, unsure of himself, looking for answers. He skilfully switches between characters indicating the changes by positioning a microphone stand. Perrott has written a play that is in turns touching and amusing before taking a dark turn as we realise where Mark’s conversation is taking him. A sobering reminder that we should look out for the young people in our lives.

Reviewed by Rhiannon Evans
Photo: Liam Fraser Richardson – Batavia Productions

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