In Conversation with Graham Norton review at Hope Theatre, London – ‘a poignant monologue’
Teenage Mark thinks that he might be gay. He is sexually aroused by the guys he sees on the train and vaginas frightens him, but he’s not had any real experience of either. In his confusion, Mark finds solace in the idea of Graham Norton, who he thinks of as a good listener. Far too embarrassed to actually write in to Norton however, Mark imagines his own personal interview with the presenter in his bedroom.
Simon Perrott’s play explores the mindset of a gay teenager with satisfying levels of complexity. Mark is jumble of contradictions. He’s manipulative but affecting, knowing and intelligent but lacking the social skills that would allow him to develop friendships. Bullying has become a problem at school and the internet only magnifies his isolation. He seeks unsuitable associations online that lead to a devastating conclusion.
Perrott’s script is confidently structured, capturing teenage candour with humour and brevity. Gradually he peels away the layers of insecurity that claw at Mark’s psyche and suddenly this morphs from a gay coming-out story into a cry for help for young people around the globe suffering from mental health issues.
Joseph Winters’ direction is suitably economical, echoing the lightness of touch in the writing and is supported a gently moving performance by Jay Parsons as Mark. It’s a little too slight, an intriguing scene rather than a finished piece but Perrott’s writing shows promise.