Every now and then, there’s a show that reminds you how truly transformative theatre can be. A performance that has you holding your breath, unmoving, entranced, until the final moment. For me, one of these shows was Eddy Brimson’s one-man play, Naughty Boy, at Fringe World.
In the dark theatre space of the Belgian Beer Cafe, Brimson stood in all white, in front of a white screen, with a chair as his only prop. And then he launched into a poetic, perfectly paced, and darkly hilarious performance, where he barely stopped for a breath until the end.
As Brimson is British, Naughty Boy is set in England, and he embodies a bitter and defiant character, whose attitude and cultural quirks would feel familiar to anyone who has spent time in the country. Although, the ideas he explores are universal. This character tells the story of his life through the lens of one hedonistic weekend, discussing topics like the morality of violence, the definition of sanity, and the division of the classes; with surprising insight.
The play is expertly written: fast-paced but balanced, with clever patterns woven into the story that highlight metaphors and important ideas. Yet somehow, it’s still easy to understand, speaking in a strong, casual accent with plenty of crude language. And the descriptions are impressive; I’ve never been to a play where the dialogue paints such a vivid picture. Transporting the audience to the late-night familiarity of a kebab shop and describing the scene with comedic detail. Or describing scenes of violence that have you riveted yet repulsed.
Naughty Boy is incredibly confronting, an intense performance where an unlikeable character explores controversial ideas and acts out disturbing scenes. Humour is scattered throughout, relieving tension when needed, and there’s an innate self-awareness that ensures the content never promotes offensive concepts. But it’s meant to be brutal. It’s meant to get you thinking.
With some theatre productions, the effort of leaving your living room to see something performed live, instead of continuing the latest high-budget binge, just doesn’t feel worth it. But Naughty Boy is an advertisement for the brilliance of theatre. The impact of Brimson standing right in front of you, the air seeming to shudder with every word he speaks; it’s incomparable. To put it simply: this gripping play is a perfectly formed piece of live entertainment that needs to be experienced.
FIVE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Naughty Boy is showing at the Belgian Beer Cafe until Sunday 19 February. Tickets can be purchased HERE