Nottingham’s own Daniel Hoffman-Gill’s intimate play takes the audience on an emotional rollercoaster, either laughing or crying with no in-between. From moments of extreme emotional intensity to childish dinosaur impressions. Issues of disability, friendship and loss come to dominate the play through Hoffman-Gill’s sincere dialogue which is brilliantly brought to life by an outstanding cast.
The play tells the story of a group of men, all ranging in age, ability and personality, living in the Somerville hostel in Nottingham. Wayne, one of the residents, is preparing to leave to move into a flat of his own. His impending departure inspires his friends to conjure up a surprise for him before he leaves, which results in a small leaving party brimming with Bonnie Tyler and Viking helmets. Along the way the audience glimpses into the lives of the characters who live in the home, especially Big Dave (excellently played by Tim Baggaley) and Kirky (again also brilliantly played by Dominic Grove) who come to dominate the play with their larger than life personalities.
“What prevails through the script, direction and acting is the bond that all these men share”
It becomes obvious to the audience through Hoffman-Gill’s dialogue that the play’s main theme is of disability, with all the characters being disabled in some way or another. This play could not come at a better time where financial support for disabled people is beginning to decrease under austerity measures, which is something that the play sharply addresses by calling it a “war on special needs”. The cast are amazing in normalizing disability that you almost forget that each character has some form of disability. What prevails through the script, direction and acting is the bond that all these men share.
The entire play is set out in one room, which at first could seem claustrophobic, but the cast and creative team do a fantastic job in bringing so much life into this one little and very plain living room with a wallpaper of a beautiful beach. They do such a fantastic job that it seems implausible that the play could be set anywhere else. The simplicity in setting allows for the audience to not be distracted from both the theme of play and Hoffman-Gill’s simplistic but enigmatic script.
“The ending comes as a surprise to the audience, however, it achieves what no other conventional ending does”
Of all the characters in a small ensemble cast it is obvious that the story is mainly centred on Big Dave and Kirky. One weakness of the play is that these two characters are so larger than life that they can drown out the other characters at certain points of the play.
The ending of the play is what stands out, as the characters’ seemingly simple conversation about crap music culminates into a conversation about the character Sarah’s role at a hospital radio, where she proclaims that no songs are rubbish and that “sometimes the clichéd rubbish works”. The play finishes with no dialogue but with the cast singing R. E.M’s ‘Losing My Religion’, after Big Dave reveals that is the song he chose to listen to after the death of his young son. The ending comes as a surprise to the audience, however, it achieves what no other conventional ending does and is sure to have anyone in tears.
‘Kings’ is running at the Nottingham Playhouse until Saturday 30th April. for more information see here