Holding The Man at the Above The Stag Theatre: First night review by Stephen Vowles

The structure of this play is as sharp and precise as the symbolic square boxes that form part of a very stylish set. Do we or can we live our lives in boxes neatly arranging our emotions and daily routine to fit into the bigger scheme of things? In Holding the Man by Tommy Murphy this question is pondered on but circumstances can sometimes disrupt that intention. This is a beautiful play based on the memoir by Timothy Conigrave which tells the story of his love affair and at times turbulent relationship with his boyfriend John Caleo and the fact that they both became HIV and John eventually passed away from AIDS.

Both Jamie Barnard who plays Timothy and Ben Boskovic who plays John are remarkable actors and between them take this play to incredible heights. Passionate and total believable. They, along with a great ensemble cast (notably Joshua Coley and Annabel Pemberton) bring a strong sense of purpose and fluidity to the proceedings that makes for memorable theatre. The on stage chemistry between Barnard and Boskovic is riveting and via direct addresses to a very attentive audience by Barnard the play reaches its sad but enthralling climax.

This production is superb, totally absorbing, energetic, true and honest storytelling; at times very funny and hilarious. Take a hanky but this will be to wipe away tears of joy and contentment  This is a must see and once again the Above The Stag Theatre have a tremendous and gorgeous hit on their hands. Praise for a story exquisitely told and a stunning interpretation of a very moving memoir.


Holding The Man runs to Saturday 21st October, at the Above The Stag Theatre, 17 Miles Street , Vauxhall, SW8. Tickets from

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