Welcome! This is your first free article. Get more free articles when you sign up with your email.

Kings of Idle Land

“Deft, delicate performances”
FacebookTwitterLinkedIn

Conor Hunt’s Kings of Idle Land tells the touching, recognisable story of a pair of young gay men and, over an hour of sensitive but slightly mawkish dialogue, traces their separate struggles against the backdrop of the 2001 Oldham riots.

It’s a world of Walkmans, Westlife, and racially-motivated violence. Michael is a broad-chested, big-hearted blokey type still keeping his sexuality a secret. Hammad is a more comfortable, more romantically experienced British-Pakistani, whose struggles are less to do with his being gay, and more to do with the colour of his skin.

Over two half-hour scenes, taking place on a graffitied bench in a square of litter-strewn green grass, these two unlikely allies bond, at first jokily, then with increasing tenderness.

Both characters are carefully drawn, and excellently portrayed by Samuel Retford and Shiv Rabheru. Retford captures both the transparent mix of bravura and denial that forms Michael’s outer shell, and the softer, shyer side underneath. Rabheru, meanwhile, neatly makes clear that while Hammad shares some of his friend’s insecurities, he has another battle that Michael cannot comprehend.

Hunt’s direction is fun and fluid throughout, but while there is a likeable lacing of broad humour, and while the Oldham setting does add an original angle, Kings of Idle Land often feels derivative – delicate, but derivative, clearly owing a debt to films like Call Me By Your Name and God’s Own Country. A familiar play, then, notable for two deft performances from Retford and Rabheru.

 

Vault Festival 2019: colourful protests, slick storytelling and cult horror – this year’s top shows


Related to this Review

Vault Festival’s head of theatre Gillian Greer: ‘It's intimidating, there are a lot of artists to support’Vault Festival’s head of theatre Gillian Greer: ‘It's intimidating, there are a lot of artists to support’

Production Details
Production nameKings of Idle Land
VenueVaults
LocationLondon
StartsFebruary 6, 2019
EndsFebruary 10, 2019
Running time1hr
AuthorConor Hunt
DirectorConor Hunt
CastSamuel Retford, Shiv Rabheru
ProducerConor Hunt
VerdictTwo delicate performances in a somewhat derivative play about gay friendship, set during the 2001 Oldham Riots
FacebookTwitterLinkedIn
Add New Comment
You must be logged in to comment.
Fergus Morgan

Fergus Morgan

Fergus Morgan

Fergus Morgan

Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue

Invest in The Stage today with a subscription starting at just £3.98
The Stage
© Copyright The Stage Media Company Limited 2020
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter
Linked In
Pinterest
YouTube