PROUD at The King’s Head Theatre: Press night review by Stephen Vowles

With a striking set by Justin Nardella who has used brilliant white neon strips to create a spotlight intensity where the action of Bren Gosling’s play is to take place. The three actors – Taofique Folarin as Roland, Andrei Maniata as Amir and Kaine Hatukai as Gary – can really put a message across and succeed they do. 

This is a play with such a strong theme of intent and purpose and this makes for 95 minutes of adrenalin-filled theatre. This is a very sexy play with high levels of testosterone being pumped around the actors’ bodies, especially Folarin and Maniata. 

The use of an almost balletic graceful, contemporary dance to flesh out the Roland and Amir characters is brilliantly done, informing the audience of the complexity of the roles. Camaraderie, respect and loyalty are issues held dear when it comes to the relationship between son Gary and father Roland.

Hatukai plays Gary in a way that is extremely watchable; the fact he plays the violin puts him on a certain journey, a life path to escape the trouble he has at home where his life is complicated. 

It’s the Roland character which is the linchpin and Folarin projects and gives a self-assured performance that demonstrates the bravery of his character. A special mention has to be made of Maniata as Amir who is just dynamic, bringing an air of mystery to the role and we need to know more about what happened to him in Syria.

This is where director Marlie Haco has it so right increasing the pace and tempo of the play with the use of a basketball prop symbolising that you should never really take your eye off the ball, let alone drop it. 

The sexual tension between Roland and Amir is both erotic and superbly masculine. At the heart of the play there are many issues addressed: stereotyping with white and black culture included, homophobia, arriving in a new country and what that entails, dealing with tragedy and loss. Brilliantly Haco gets her three actors to ramp up the physical energy as secrets are revealed, twists and turns played out.

This is an absorbing piece of modern theatre where human emotions are laid out raw and almost uncensored, stunning in the way the three characters’ stories are brought to life and when they overlap the three actors are totally immersed. Intense stuff! 

Photos: Toby Mather


PROUD runs to Saturday 12th March at The King’s Head Theatre, 115 Upper Street, Islington, London, N1 1QN.

Tickets via or from the box office on 0207 226 8561. 

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