Life as a Goth is not easy. All those clothes, the make-up and maintaining the image make for a very demanding existence. Nick, a 17-year-old gay boy is feeling the strain and is beginning to wonder whether he has chosen the right vocation in life. Clement Charles takes us on Nick’s voyage of discovery and reveals almost all in this monologue
There is the double reward of seeing a talented newcomer give a commanding performance along with a humorous tale promoting a mood for further night-time revels.
In his exciting debut at the Fringe, Clem, who has just completed his first year at the Birmingham School of Acting, holds the stage for just over an hour and gives a captivating and humorous performance of the mostly downs of Nick’s life. In so doing he portrays multiple characters who interrupt and impinge on his attempts at doing justice to being a Goth. To bring them alive he has developed a repertoire of voices and imagery that create credible people in a number of settings. His mastery of this skill makes for ease of movement, flitting from one scene to the next, as each character and location becomes immediately recognisable.
Feeling that even a Goth should do something worthwhile in life he takes up part-time work at an old people's home where he introduces us to Reg, the dribbling card-sharper, an intimidating old lady and a few other inmates who work there. Then there are his encounters with the young Greg and the fantasies they generate. Meanwhile, back home, he has to deal with his sister, whom he barely considers to exist, and his parents. As if teenagers don't have enough problems with vaguely normal parents our long-suffering Goth has to put up with a pair of medieval re-enactors who fail to respond as he had hoped when he comes out to them. However, their hobby provides one of the most comically sustained and theatrically inventive scenes in the play as the Battle of Agincourt is revisited. The fighting over he goes on to portray the ineptness of a Goth’s attempts at disco dancing, but willingness to lip-sync to Geri Halliwell.
There is still work that could be done on About A Goth. The script by Tom Wells has a tight structure, but in performance some lines work better than others. The deliberate mispronunciation of French words adds nothing to the character and is unnecessary. As the performances build up Clem will undoubtedly continue to fine-tune his timing and develop the looks, pauses and emphases even further.
To be a Goth or not to be a Goth? That is the dilemma. By the end, Nick has probably resolved it. There is no dilemma, however, in asserting that the play’s late-night slot is perfect for this amusing romp. There is the double reward of seeing a talented newcomer give a commanding performance along with a humorous tale promoting a mood for further night-time revels.