The Vault Festival proudly announces on their programme ‘London’s boldest and wildest arts festival’ and that remark gets a very firm thumbs up from me especially as the organisers and producers have made the LGBTQI+ content larger and larger each year, giving actors and writers a valuable platform to perform their work on. One of these new plays is David Hendon’s superb Body Talk.
A cast of three – Mark Philip Compton as Phil, Taofique Folarin as Cameron and lastly Dominic Jones as Carl – are perfectly matched offering erudite takes on their roles, linked to their respective temperaments, style, posture, body language, physical and facial attributes.
The execution of their craft when they delivery their own monologues or when they overlap is stunning. The subject matter of the play is garnering headlines and press attention where the pressure to socially confirm and to be accepted by your peers is having at times disastrous effects.
The three actors give cathartic performances and are prepared ‘to go there’ to reinforce the message at the heart of Hendon’s magical work. The three of them equally share the spotlight as the themes focus on hiding behind a mask, coming of age, sexual desire and awakening, homophobia out of ignorance, school bullying, anorexia, bulimia, the lack of self worth and self esteem or even vanity – and how to be flavour of the month in today’s social media whirlwind.
As everything is based on the the number of likes you have on your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account, the desire to make your fifteen minutes of fame last as long as possible is overwhelming, a point that Hendon makes rather well.
Body Talk also looks at manipulation, trolling, hacking and even betrayal via social media. To go viral can be vile. This is a very fine ensemble piece which also looks at re-inventing yourself, and that everyone deserves a chance to be a star if given the right break.
The finale when the three of them as pals take a selfie is moving and so apt. This is ground-breaking riveting modern theatre and a very competent look at the gay male executed by directors Chris Davis and Sam Luffman who get out of the three actors wonderful and extremely watchable performances with them being totally in their respective zones.
Photos by Steve Gregson