Strangers in Between
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
Strangers in Between
Trafalgar Studios until 3rd February