Tag Archives: Roly Botha

Strangers in Between – 4 Stars


Strangers in Between

Trafalgar Studios

Reviewed – 12th January 2018


“a tender and humbling depiction of a gay community as a family unit”


Sun, sand, Neighbours, barbies, surfing, The Ashes and cans of Fosters are probably some of the first things that come to mind when us Brits think about Down Under. However, Tommy Murphy’s play Strangers In Between is far removed from the fun-loving, care free personas of our Aussie compadres. Although most of the first half is spent in fits of laughter, it is a bittersweet tale about trying to shake off troubled pasts and becoming comfortable with who you are. Having had two successful runs at The King’s Head Theatre, Strangers In Between makes its tremendous West End transfer to the Trafalgar Studios.

Teenage runaway Shane tries to make his way in the seedy yet vibrant Sydney district of Kings Cross, fleeing from his family and country bumpkin upbringing. What initially comes across as a lad filled with provincial naivety, whose cluelessness with adulting reaches another level, soon becomes clear that something more serious lies beneath. Haunted by his distressing past that has left deep scars, Shane stumbles through his new, lonely, big city life, whilst also trying to come to terms with his sexuality. Fortunately, the men that Shane encounters offer comfort and compassionate support, taking him under their wing as they guide him, often comically, and most certainly patiently, through his personal dramas.

Roly Botha plays the fragile Shane with incredible vulnerability, proving to be an acting talent to look out for in the future. Stephen Connery-Brown gives a solid performance as the witty and warm-hearted older man that Shane befriends, whilst Dan Hunter flexes his versatility at being able to multi role the polarising characters of Shane’s lover and older brother.

This three-hander play, presents a tender and humbling depiction of a gay community as a family unit, steering clear of any flamboyant stereotypes. With Murphy’s naturalistic dialogue it microscopically zooms into the minute details of the human condition. However, a lot of the time this seems to be diluted with a rather idealistic, rosy outlook, where good-natured strangers regularly offer acts of kindness. How easily this would truly occur in a major city is dubious. But, cynicism placed firmly to one side, Strangers In Between offers an affectionate drama that has some cracking one-liners and awkward first-time moments that many of us can relate to.


Reviewed by Phoebe Cole

Photography by Scott Rylander


Trafalgar Studios

Strangers in Between

Trafalgar Studios until 3rd February



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A Haunting – 4*

A Haunting

Vault Festival

Press Night – 16 February 2017


“Original, chilling and hugely entertaining”

The shows we’ve seen at this year’s Vault festival have fallen neatly into two categories – those ‘needing a lot of work’, and those that are pretty pleasing already. Nathan Lucky Wood’s A Haunting falls directly into the upper ends of the latter – not altogether surprising as it had run previously to mainly positive reviews at the King’s Head Theatre.

For this transfer, A Haunting is staged in one the Vault’s most atmospheric locations, The Pit, which perfectly evokes the chilling content of the play. If you’ve never visited the Vault Theatre, it is a hidden marvel with a labyrinth like array of performance spaces belied by its slightly insalubrious looking location.

The plot of  A Haunting explores the world of teenager Mark (Roly Botha), who like so many of his generation, whiles away the hours in an online gaming world. It’s in this world he encounters ‘Ghost’ (Jake Curran – the only cast member reprising his role from the King’s Head original),  at first just a faceless game-mate on Counterstrike but soon someone we start to question the motives of, which appear to be becoming more and more sinister…

When Ghost finally succeeds in cajoling Mark into meeting, there’s a certain assumption that you know what’s going to happen next. But A Haunting throws you a curve ball, this is not a straightforward tale of a confused teenager being groomed.

With errant parents, a father barely mentioned and a mother (Izabella Urbanowicz) blinkered to what’s happening to her son, Mark’s life appears to be in danger. Lured into the woods late at night, this is edge of your seat tension at its finest.

Teasingly the show leaves some questions unanswered and its ending open to interpretation by the audience.

Jake Curran plays the creepily unstable Ghost character so convincingly at times its frightening, whilst Izabella Urbanowicz as Mark’s mother Anna comes into her own when she finally realises the mortal danger her son may be in. Stand out performance though goes to Roly Botha, one of the brightest young acting talents around at the moment; you can genuinely feel for and believe in his character.

A Haunting has an all too short run – ending Sunday 19th February. But this is one of those shows, you just know will make a return. And return it must. Original, chilling and hugely entertaining.




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