Tag Archives: Jess Tucker Boyd



Finborough Theatre

FOAM at the Finborough Theatre


“The execution of the story is fascinating and the reflection on the punk and queer scene of the time is illuminating”

Foam is a biographical story about a gay neo-Nazi from 1974 to 1993. We follow his life through a series of conversations with other gay men, all taking place in a public toilet from the day he shaves his head to… the final bathroom. The show depicts racially sensitive subject matter, homophobia and violence (Jess Tucker Boyd as fight director). Some of the conversations are up for interpretation with regards to the takeaway message.

The audience enter to the sounds of a dripping echoey lavatory (David Segun Olowu). The room is plunged into darkness as startling punk music clangs around the intimate Finborough Theatre, with the audience sat on three sides. Lights up on Nicky with shaving foam on his head. Written by Harry McDonald and directed by Mathew Lliffe, Foam is an intense, cerebral and provocative examination of the dichotomous person that was Nicky Crane. The conversations are wide ranging; confrontational, sexually charged and also humorous as Nicky tries to connect with other queer men through the changing eras of the punk and gay clubbing scene.

The set is evocative and timeless with its industrial white tiled walls, blurry mirrors and fixtures of a public convenience (Nitin Parmar). It is lit with atmospheric colours and makes use of the glazed windows above and light seeping through the centre stage cubical. Colours creep into scenes slowly, before you notice the ‘rosey tint’ of Nicky’s memories (Jonathan Chan).

“Walker multi-roles these characters with tension and levity opposite Richards who is terrifying and desperate

McDonald takes artistic license as Nicky Crane (Jake Richards) meets Mosely (Matthew Baldwin), fascism incarnate, who seduces Nicky in more ways than one. Baldwin is electric and commanding whilst Richards is an unsure but intrigued teenager. Whilst gripping and absorbing, the blurring of homosexual awakening and right-wing radicalisation could be considered an unfair comparison, but others may read into the scene differently. Later on, we meet characters who seem attracted to Nicky’s ‘look’ in the form of Gabriel and Christopher (Kishore Walker) who display a nonchalant attitude to his skinhead identity. The play presents affronting examination of LGBTQ individuals who tolerate and entertain the hypocrisy of Nicky, even liking what he represents. Nicky can only exist as a Nazi if there are other gay people who choose to ignore or fetishise his tattoos and worldview. Walker multi-roles these characters with tension and levity opposite Richards who is terrifying and desperate.

A scene that provokes interrogation is that of Bird (Keanu Adolphus Johnson), a black gay man who Nicky corners in a club bathroom. The two men discuss Nicky’s crimes, which were unmentioned until this point, his targets including a nine year old. This is the only time Nicky and the audience is confronted with an overt rejection of right wing extremism and the impact of his crimes on victims, which bares noting. Johnson presents Bird as strong and secure in his queerness and in his rejection of Nicky in a powerful argument. The bravery of Bird is admirable, but potentially defangs the stakes of what Nicky represents. The final scene brings back Baldwin as Craig, a kind loving figure, starkly different to Mosely.

Foam tackles Crane’s life with depth and precision. In a story about neo-Nazis and hypocrisy, there was less focus on the consequences of his hate crimes and more on his strange double life and the people that populated it. The execution of the story is fascinating and the reflection on the punk and queer scene of the time is illuminating. The cast were superb and transfixing under Lliffe’s direction. Nicky Crane was a real man who committed hate crimes. There remains some discussion to be had about what the show was trying to say, and who got to say it. But It is clear that the play definitely invites these important conversations.


FOAM at the Finborough Theatre

Reviewed on 4th April 2024

by Jessica Potts

Photography by Craig Fuller




Previously reviewed at this venue:

JAB | ★★★★ | February 2024
THE WIND AND THE RAIN | ★★★ | July 2023
SALT-WATER MOON | ★★★★ | January 2023
PENNYROYAL | ★★★★ | July 2022
THE STRAW CHAIR | ★★★ | April 2022
THE SUGAR HOUSE | ★★★★ | November 2021



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VAULT Festival 2019



The Vaults

Reviewed – 14th February 2019



“a stellar debut, thoroughly researched with keen dialogue”


It is rare for theatre to leave the audience silently stunned in the final blackout. However, Bottled will succeed in rendering you utterly speechless, trying and failing to hold back tears. For a debut playwright and performed by such a youthful cast, it’s an awesome achievement.

Katy, simultaneously played by Alice Vilanculo, Isabel Stone and Hayley Wareham, introduces herself to us on her fifteenth birthday. Over the course of the next hour we follow her as she gets a boyfriend, studies for her GCSEs and tries to get on with her mum’s new boyfriend, Brian. Brian seems alright at first, apart from his baking of strawberry flavoured cakes (Katy’s least favourite) he actually seems like a cool guy, offering to pay for Katy’s Spanish holiday with her mates and taking her fishing. But gradually her mum stops seeing her friends, Aunty Carol doesn’t come round anymore, and mum has quit her job because Brian can look after the both of them on his own. It doesn’t take long before Katy’s mum is isolated and Katy starts to notice purple patterns around her mother’s eye.

Exploring domestic abuse from the perspective of a teenager, and someone whose life is secondarily affected by manipulation, violence and fear is deeply emotive. Katy’s innocence and naivety means it just hurts harder. Each of the three actors portray their own emphasis and interpretation but form a hive mind on stage so that each is a distinct part of Katy.

Hayley Wareham’s script is cleverly balanced, introducing Katy as a bright, witty and ambitious young girl who’s aware of the absurdities of modern life. You immediately warm to her through humour but ultimately empathise with sincerity as you see how quickly circumstances can change. It’s a stellar debut, thoroughly researched with keen dialogue. The piece sensitively and subtly explores the current failings of the welfare system, in which refuge centres, hostels and temporary housing make it painfully difficult to sustain a life free from abuse, let alone thrive with one.

Chris White’s direction is necessarily stylised having multiple actors playing the same character. This has the effect of actually elevating the horror of the situation through echoes, amplification and repetition of sound and movement (Jess Tucker Boyd). Conversely, the set and lighting is sparse, with no more than a handful of props used with surprising utility coming from helium balloons.

Bottled makes for a truly affecting piece filled with emotional urgency that certainly proves it’s not about big budgets when it comes to impactful theatre.


Reviewed by Amber Woodward

Photography by Slav Kirichok


Vault Festival 2019


Part of VAULT Festival 2019




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