Eddy Brimson hasn’t been on his best behaviour. Pitched somewhere between the British gangsters of Lock, Stock… and Eric Love from Starred Up, Brimson’s Joe spins a story from inside a mental institution. But dressed all in white, it isn’t immediately clear whether he is inside as patient or nurse. Combining excellent storytelling with the odd smattering of brutality, Brimson’s production is a one man onslaught on the mind.
A one-man onslaught on the mind.
Regaling the story of a night out gone more than slightly awry, Brimson presents his character as a football hooligan who’s far more interested in the journey to and from the match than the game itself. Intricately nuanced, Joe is a protagonist layered with regret and anger, but somehow ever so relatable. Even a suggestion to follow a violent urge against a romantic partner seems a little enticing, or so Brimson convinces. Never breaking or resting for a second, Brimson captivates from the word go, drawing you deeper in to his sordid tale. Through his brilliant work, the audience becomes more than complicit in this adventure – we’re right there with him.
Assisted by Brimson’s powerhouse performance, Naughty Boy’s script weaves emotion throughout just as much as it does shock. The wordplay is intelligent and fantastically visceral, but as the plot proceeds there comes a realisation that the story is never going to step outside the comfort zone set up in the first few minutes. It is rare that Brimson plays out a dialogue, but his doing so near the beginning and then never again identifies a fear for this show to try to be adventurous. The staging is hardly explored, and the use of tech is confined to pretty much just one instance.
All of this leaves quite a hefty weight for Brimson to carry all alone, though remarkably he manages to bear it. For future iterations of the production, Brimson could play around with visual representations of characters and situations he is discussing – something that is toyed with here, but ultimately shied away from. For now, Naughty Boy relies on the impact of the words Brimson leaves hanging in the air. And make no mistake, those words strike with brutal force.