This is a very special piece of theatre. Carefully nuanced writing is enhanced by precise, emotional performances. Sophie Swithinbank’s Bacon tells the story of two teenage loners and their growing relationship. Mark is the delicate new boy at school, where his Mum moved him "because at his old school… he…".
Darren is a wannabe hard man, too scary to have friends, damaged by his wastrel father. In 70 minutes, they become unlikely friends in a complex and manipulative relationship. They need each other, but neither would ever admit it. Delicate, raunchy, believable dialogue with the naivety of youth contrasts the harshness of credible teenage lives. Then there is a confrontation which builds to tear them apart.
Finely balanced performances from Corey Montague-Sholey as Mark and William Robinson as Darren develop this to-and-fro friendship in a series of sharp scenes. It is surprisingly funny, and their delivery to achieve the laughs is delicious. Montague-Sholey sensitively shows pain and desperate loneliness which obstructs his ability to move on. Robinson reveals how Darren covers vulnerability with bluster and aggression. Their accents and diction effectively contrast their social status.
Natalie Johnson's set is dominated by a huge seesaw which the actors manipulate with nimble skill. Matthew Iliffe’s direction is focussed on drawing the audience in to the story and he co-ordinates a rich mix of scenarios which, with subtle lighting by Ryan Joseph Stafford, evinces turbulent lives in west London.
This production shines through the efforts of two powerful actors in a raw, surprisingly humorous examination of masculinity, sexuality and power. The emotional tussle of discovery and denial leads to the bacon of the title offering a satisfying conclusion.