Really Want To Hurt Me review at Assembly Hall, Edinburgh – ‘absorbing coming-of-age monologue’
There are coming-of-age tales aplenty at the Fringe but this moving story from Ben SantaMaria captures the well of loneliness that a young man falls into as he come to terms with his sexual identity. Set in the mid 1980s, our hero realises from an early age that he is gay but suffers under pressure at school and in his own home to conform. When it becomes too much to bear, he edges closer and closer to suicide.
The thing that pulls him back from the brink is amateur dramatics. Stifling his identity in real life, he flourishes in an environment of creativity. SantaMaria doesn’t labour the nostalgia but the songs from Eurythmics, Wham and Culture Club provide a rich counterpoint to our teenagers life and fears. It’s not a straightforward monologue either as performer Ryan Price bursts into dance occasionally, his moves a form of release creating an unspoken connection to the soundtrack of his life.
Evidently a deeply personal testimony, SantaMaria’s Really Want To Hurt Me owes much of its success to Price’s interpretation. The actor’s gentle, West Country burr lends pathos to his journey but there is strength there too. There is also a sense that this is the first act of a three act drama but it’s one that you’ll want to see in full. Not unfulfilling but simply unfinished.