BY KATHRYN PIERCE
In collaboration with @SomewhereEDI
[star rating =3/5]
Flaming Theatre’s Really Want to Hurt Me is a solo theatre piece which tells the story of a 15-year-old Devonian schoolboy (RYAN PRICE) growing up in 1980s England, coming to terms with his sexuality and finding his passion and identity. It traces two years of his life until he leaves school and heads to London in search of a future in acting.
The story runs like a mix tape of memories, with music playing a huge part in the protagonist’s way of coping with and escaping the world.
We follow the everyday battles at school – where societal expectations are felt the hardest – alongside the absence of supportive and present parenting. Themes of bullying and suicide run through the story as the protagonist struggles to find themselves and their footing in the world.
The writing is really strong (BEN SANTAMARIA) and I enjoyed how the story was put together and related like a spoken diary without dates and times.
While I enjoyed Ryan’s performance, I personally would have preferred a more grounded style of acting, with more direct eye contact with the audience, rather than the “looking into the distance” style delivery which reminded more of a filmed monologue. It occurred to me the style of direction would work well as a ‘talking head’ as I didn’t feel the movement or occasional props necessarily added to the story.
The writing style reminded me a little of Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, and while the protagonist is just 15-years-old, and would perhaps be limited in how acutely they could express some of the darker elements of the story, I did feel there was too much of a light touch at times.
Overall the story needed a greater breadth of acting, as it felt a little bare and I was conscious of the fourth wall. Adding more AV elements would add greater context to some of the scenes, or even a low music bed to the narration would have added more depth and made the audience feel less shut out.
The distance between the action and the audience didn’t allow enough access into the emotional content of the plot, and ultimately the heart, of the story.