high ridin’

17 Sep

By James Hogan
At the King’s Head
It is a broken down Guest House on the West Pennine Moors. The wallpaper is peeling off the walls and there are traces of a past Victorian grandeur in the chaise longue and some of the furnishings. Stan has inherited the place, left to him by his deceased father who had previously disowned him for being queer. Ivy, Stan’s Aunt Ivy agrees with the old man’s prejudices and believes that she should be entitled – if not to the house, but to the furniture and other contents..
Ivy played by Linda Beckett is a typical belligerent Lancashire woman of around 75. She has a shopping trolley into which she puts the things that she believes belong to her including a picture she takes off the wall.
Stan. portrayed as a tough guy with deep emotional undertones by Tom Michael Blyth, catches her taking the picture. He has the appearance of a brutal working class security guard who has been in prison for GBH. He doesn’t want to give up anything to her and currently needs her out of the way. They quarrel, she eventually sneaks the picture into her trolley and rushes off.
When she has gone, Stan brings on the reason why he needs her out of the way. He has picked up, a young lad of about nineteen , high on Spice, a lethal drug. The boy, Ronnie, is in a bad way, almost unable to move. He is carrying another stash of drugs in his bag. It is important that Stan is not found with him. Any possession of dope would send him back into prison
What Stan wants is to bring the Boarding house back to its past glory and become a respected member of society. Now he is lumbered with this sweet boy – a lovely first performance by Chi-Cho Tehe, who needs to get to Blackpool and Stan has offered to take him there.
Stan needs to get Ronnie sobered up He wants to feed the boy, but he is fresh out of prison and there is nothing in the house that is not maggot ridden or turning green.
This play shows clearly the lives of two homosexual people. There is no need to explain anything. They are what they are They are not camp or ‘gay’ They are just loving, needy people. It is not an issue, simply a fact.
It is part of the Kings Head Queer season, without any kind of special pleading. James Hogan knows his subject very well. Having spent his youth living with and loving a much older man.
The play is sympathetically directed by Peter Darney and the run down set is beautifully realised by Fin Redshaw with clever atmospheric lighting by Sherry Coenen
The play and performances are riveting – an excellent play that needs to be seen.

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