Absolute Certainty? staged by Qweerdog Theatre revolves around the confused lives of two brothers and a friend. That question mark poses the doubts and lack of reconciliation that permeate writer/director Stewart Campbell’s play at the Bridge House Theatre, Penge, in which, outside of a few well-established facts, nothing seems certain, not even the matters that recur time and again in discussions. Where people stand, what they believe and how they amuse themselves are all part of a melting pot of fears, of the unknown, of questioning, wreckless behaviour and the unspoken that make a resolution and a stable existence seemingly impossible.
The cast of three performs with pace and energy
The cast of three performs with pace and energy in an attempt to convey the muddled lives of the lads. Finn (Lewis Jackson) tries to remain focused on his studies for the looming A-Level exams and the prospect of life at university. He is the only academic one among them. His older brother, Deano (Dean Gregory) is a builder with his brains in his groin. His life revolves around excessive partying at the weekends and picking up as many women as he can, because it’s what a stud feels obliged to do. His best mate Lee (Andrew Houghton) somewhat reluctantly at times joins in, but has befriended Finn and sees it as his job to prepare the teenager for the social life that awaits him. Deano fears his brother’s presence might cramp his style, however, and is also suspicious of his growing friendship with Lee.
There’s a lot of homophobic banter and taunting from Deano as the nature of the relationship between the two boys becomes more ambiguous. Those who like such situations out in the open will be frustrated as the issue hovers under the surface with only a hint of what may or may not be going on. Of the few certainties, we know that Deano’s attitude is derived partly from their mother leaving the family several years ago to take up a lesbian relationship along with the anti-gay rhetoric he has learned from his father. This situation has built up his anger, his resentment and the chip on his shoulder. It’s further exacerbated when he discovers that Lee is in touch with his mother and has been passing on messages from her to Finn. Thus tensions rise and friendships are challenged amongst a trio that lacks the skills to deal with the confrontations they raise.
There’s a lot of scene-setting in the play and repetition of scenarios, although in act two events move on apace. The abrupt ending leaves a lot hanging in the air, however, and although by that stage more sensitivity has been demonstrated by Deano and Lee, there is little to suggest that they will make any substantial changes in their attitudes and behaviour. Finn, meanwhile, seems to rise above most of it and has the escape route of university to look forward to.
The script might leave something to be desired but each member of the cast uses the material to create a distinctive and complex character surrounded by an air of mystery that gives the production an element of fascination.