Be prepared to be enter the world of Stephen’s (Alex Wells-King) flat, where he keeps a woman (Monica Forero) chained to his radiator! A fast piece of dark humour that will either have you belly laughing, or tutting with disgust, I Keep a Woman in My Flat Chained to a Radiator breaks all the set boundaries around social taboos!
For one hour you enter the “lens of Stephen” and see how he truly views society whilst waiting in anticipation for his date to arrive, as victim and kidnapper discuss various different topics, such as feminism, racism and homophobia. Without a doubt the jokes in this play are intended to be controversial, and admittedly, it is difficult sometimes to not laugh at the arguments that Forero and Wells-King create in a dark, yet hilarious tone.
The show has to be critiqued, however, due to certain jokes; for example a choice between two trousers becoming “Sophie’s choice”, which became a choice between which pair the Nazis should gas, can be seen as slightly too dark. Other audience members seemed shocked at the use of racism and felt some jokes were just a bit “too far”. Yet, it’s difficult to know where to draw the line…. isn’t this simply dark humour?
“We do truly enter the selfish brain of this kidnapper”
The set that greets the audience is a powerful first image reflecting this train wreck of a relationship; rubbish scattered everywhere, boxes full of clothes with various miscellaneous items, a bed made out of boxes, a fridge and of course, the radiator.
The writing and set choices have to be applauded, as despite this clear catastrophe of a scene imbedded into the audience’s mind, Willis and Wells-King have chosen to make the kidnapping and chaining of the title as a subplot. Instead, Stephen’s date-night becomes the focus of the play, as we do truly enter the selfish brain of this kidnapper.
First impressions can be deceiving in this play. Quickly we are introduced to an obscure yet awkward man, Stephen, who bounces into the room, larger than life with a booming voice. Despite the initial impression of a confident character, the audience finds he is far from this, as the hour of the date draws closer and closer. What is interesting, is how Wells-King cleverly avoids the stereotypical “psycho” character, and invents a man that is crude, dark and extremely funny; a man that is almost relatable to.
He manages to convince the audience that he is a man on the outskirts of society’s norms; a hopeless, awkward mortgage advisor who clearly has never had a true friend or date in his life. It would be an understatement to say Wells-King was the star of this performance.
“This play appears to hold nothing back, almost yelling at social etiquette through its dark jokes by saying WHY THE HELL NOT?”
Yet one cannot deny that Forero doesn’t have power in this play. Like Stephen, she is far from what she first may seem, challenging her kidnapper to the point where she even conveyed, at times, the air of a wife telling off her husband. Her almost manipulative tone of voice can be seen to have the power to rip any confidence Stephen has, or increase it as she pleases.
The dramatic irony created by these two actors enhances the woman’s control of certain conversations, as despite being kept as a prisoner, Stephen directs all questions about his low self-esteem at her, asking for the woman’s opinions on his appearance, personality and even his penis! Wells-King does occasionally over-power Forero’s character, as it sometimes felt he was ranting no end, and it would therefore have been interesting to hear more of the woman’s opinion, especially toward the end of the play.
This piece of theatre holds nothing back, almost yelling at social etiquette through its dark jokes by saying WHY THE HELL NOT? Previewed at the Nottingham New Theatre before it hits the Edinburgh Fringe, the play is one that will make you laugh – even if you may not want to!
Image courtesy of the Nottingham New Theatre.
STUFF is running at the Nottingham New Theatre until Wednesday 15th June. For more information and to book tickets, see here.
‘I Keep a Woman In My Flat Chained To A Radiator’ will also be appearing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival from Friday 5th August until Monday 29th August. For more information and to book tickets, see here.