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"Boys" at Soho Theatre

An experimental review of Ella Hickson's "Boys" at Soho Theatre. Authored by Daniel B. Yates. @danielbyates.

Benny (Danny Kirane), the play appears to suggest, needs to "man up". Mourning the loss of a brother and lapsing into melancholy over the absence of a safety blanket ("when your dad was like Google") father figure, he is trapped in a vision of childhood based on a notion of "taking responsibility". If this is patriarchal then Boys is coy about delivering it as such, caught perhaps in its own identifications with masculine authority.

The play ultimately damns the spectators of history, coming from right inside our fear of change. At the same time Boys is brutal and pessimistic in its consideration of the alternatives.

Short sightedness in the emptying, commercially-inflected party.

You ever felt like this when political action happens? When a generation catches light and you're at the window with a computer? Boys attempts to grasp the conservativism lurking in the households of students and youth, everything the long years of neo-liberalism prepared us for.

Benny (Danny Kirane) sits on the fridge. It is a vantage point, floating above the stink which he finds himself adrift in. Benny is a nice guy, written beautifully by Hickson, his voice lost in relativism, he tries moralism and viciously emptied of progressive hope. Does it come too late for him to grasp the moment when it is presented?

Was the absent big brother some version of God's silence, metaphysical lack, the vision of that which instils quietism and political immaturity, was it the retreat of the state in its visible forms to its surveillance forms?

Soho Theatre frontage. "The building in Dean Street opened in 2000, with a 140 seat auditorium and an 85/100 seat studio plus a small performance bar overlooking the street and Soho Theatre Bar, which occupies the ground and lower ground floors." Doncha know.

The girls are mostly conciliatory, invariably smarter than the boys, and yet they do not define the friendship group. An investigation of the ethics of men sleeping with young women is played to the rhythms of conservative youth.

The disturbances outside that energise and threaten the stability of the flatmates, are faceless and unquantifiable. Politics is the return of the repressed.

Is the revolution actually happening? How does the group of friends enact a collective leap into the future's uncertain waters?

Boys was largely about the middle classes. Sophie is called up on her privilege "has Daddy come to sort everything out" asked Mack sardonically, "yep" she replies without shame. Mack preaches self-reliance and is an aggressive commonsense portrayal of the self-made man.

Piles of bin bags from the 1979 "Winter of Discontent" when public services were under sustained assault from the government. Boys uses overflowing bin-liners as a powerful visual metaphor for politics, of the group and of the Public Imaginary.

Chloe Lamford's superbly detailed set provides the squalid detail for the rampant punchy party scenes. (L-R Tom Mothersdale, Eve Ponsonby, Alison O'Donnell, Lorne Macdonald, Samuel Edward Cook)