Theatre: Held at the Tristan Bates Theatre – review by Stephen Vowles

Tina Jay’s play Held is a play of two acts: the first act is called Walking, the second Dog City, and are both equally brutal and compelling.

Actors Jack Brett Anderson and Anthony Taylor, as Jamie and Sleat, respectively both tackle very hard hitting and provocative material where society inside a prison still has a hierarchy that must be adhered too. Survival is based upon what you are prepared to do or have done to you. Jay gives her characters backstories, ones where society never gave people a chance; they subsequently became victims of society’s neglect, social depravation and drug dependency. This is also a story about social conditioning where the authorities at all costs must break the human spirit. The sexual content of the play – male rape, the need for companionship – are all handled with real sensitivity, especially in act two where a brooding Cal, played by Duran Fulton Brown, steals most of the scenes he is in.

The salaciousness featured in the play could be described as gratuitous but the theme here is that power is a currency, and that dependency on a fellow human being can be complicated and disturbing, which can lead to sexual paranoia. The juxtaposition of this play is brilliant; whether one is held in captivity or in someone’s arms, this conflict proves how contrary life can be. SV

Held runs until Saturday (17 Jun) at the Tristan Bates Theatre, 1a Tower Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2H 9NP (

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