Squirm is a new play written by Serafina Cusack, currently working with the Royal Court on their forthcoming Open Court Season. It has a short run at the Bread & Roses Theatre in Clapham before transferring to Edinburgh in August for the Fringe Festival.
The show is Rory’s confession to his ex-girlfriend. He recounts his past relationships, justifying his choices and actions to his unseen lover, the only one he thinks will understand. Rory speaks freely and shares the highs and lows, surrounded by the audience, looking in on this young man as he struggles with his morals, realises that the age of consent really does matter and as much as he wants to be, he’s really not OK. In a time where footballers’ relationships with teenage girls are in the public eye, this play is a timely presentation of this issue outside the tabloid press.
Nathaniel Fairnington is impressive as Rory, convincingly conflicted and switching between despair and delight as he recounts his tale in a wordy stream of consciousness (which is sometimes hard to follow). It’s an emotionally draining performance for actor and audience as it reaches its tragic climax.
The whole play takes place in a bathroom, complete with bath, sink and toilet. The sound and lighting set the mood of the piece and echo Rory’s frame of mind. At the beginning of the play, Rory is in the bath, deep in thought as the audience enters the room. He moves around the stage throughout the show, tidying up the clothes strewn on the floor as he tells his tale. The small space makes the audience feel even more like voyeurs, listening in on things we really don’t want to hear but can’t turn away from.
Appetite Theatre was founded in 2014 to deal with uncomfortable subjects in an engaging way. Squirm is well named; it is an intimate and challenging play showcasing young talent in writing, directing and acting. It’s a tough watch presenting some difficult and current topics which leaves the audience with lots to think about.
Reviewed by Rhiannon Evans
Photo: Matthew Ferguson
Squirm is at the Bread & Roses Theatre until 22 May and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival from 3-13 August