By David Walters

Direct from sold-out audiences at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival the play Bacon sizzles at Soho Playhouse through January 28.

When I say sizzles, I’m not only deliberately applying the pun, I honestly mean that the play as a whole is sizzling, crackling, and spitting with dynamic tension, like a water drop in constant movement skating across a too-hot pan, like a rocket still tethered to its launch pad with all engines firing, like not knowing why you’re sitting in the principal’s office and all they do is keep repeating, “Oh, you know why you’re here.” This incredible tension is palpable from the beginning and violently see-saws back and forth throughout this must-see two-character play. It’s one of those experiences where you don’t want to take your eyes off the players as they and the script are unpredictable and you don’t want to miss a thing.

In England, 10th graders Darren (William Robinson) and Mark (Corey Montague-Sholay) are both outsiders for two completely polar reasons. That they would ever outwardly be friends is incomprehensible. But their inner loneliness pushes them together opening different windows in each other’s souls that leak out the inner incomprehensibility of coming of age that we all are or have struggled with. It’s an intense play, beautifully acted, wonderfully and precisely directed, with lighting and set that goes beyond mere function and becomes integral to the experience of the play.

William Robinson as Darren is menacing and powerful in his fight for a life as he claws his way up from the hole he came into the world from. In the moments when required to open a chink in his full-body armor of emotions, he does so with one hand firmly affixed to the doorknob ready to slam it shut again. Corey Montague-Sholay as Mark brings a forthrightness that shields the dark within his soul drawing the audience in before revealing a depth of despair that can not be crossed. Both actors are phenomenal in their portrayals and Matthew Iliffe‘s direction on this edge-of-the-cliff journey is precisely applied to visualize the inner turmoil that is spilling out before us. The play itself is spare in its telling but deep in the foundation it has laid allowing the actors and director to flush out the true essence of the characters. A prime example of theater as a collaborative art form.

Warning: a considerable amount of stage smoke bleeds into the audience as the characters clash and each of their personal bacon starts to fry. There are depictions of physical and sexual violence as well as references to self-harm and abuse.

Bacon, written by Sophie Swithinbank and directed by Matthew Iliffe

Starring Corey Montague-Sholay and William Robinson.

Set and costume design by Natalie Johnson; Lighting design by Ryan Joseph Stafford, Sound Design by Mwen, Fight and intimacy director by Jess Tucker Boyd, Voice coach by Frankie Aaronovitch-Bruce.


If this review piqued your interest, you might also be piqued by one of the following that also played at Soho Playhouse: South, for all the women who thought they were Mad, and Passage.