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Review | Strangers in Between at London’s King’s Head Theatre

By Will Stroude

Strangers in Between

by Australian playwright Tommy Murphy returns to the Kings Head after a successful season last year. First premiering in Sydney in 2005, it is a sweet, rose-tinted coming-of-age story. It follows young Shane (Roly Botha) as he flees the confines of small-town Australia and arrives in the harsh, brash, terrifyingly wonderful Sydney.

Murphy explores what it is to be gay in modern Australia yet sets the play in a time that is largely pre-social media, Grindr and Tinder, so there is a refreshing innocence to this production. The sexually-confused young boy finding himself in the big city is certainly not a new subject and is one many of us can relate to. Unfortunately, however, this production offers nothing original, and with no insightful revelations feels like it’s treading a well-worn path.

In his first professional lead role, Roly Botha is clearly a talent to watch. His performance is bold, imaginative and compelling. However, less is most definitely more and in such an intimate venue as the King’s Head, all performances needed to be pared back a little. With too much demonstrating and signalling we lose the truth of these characters and the subsequent themes of abuse can feel predictable and heavy handed.

Stephen Connery-Brown’s performance as the older and amiable Peter is a little bit Kath & Kim. He does, however, have lots of fun with the rapid and naturalistic one-liners. His relationship with the young Shane gives us a touching insight into how real friendship can exist regardless of age and there are lovely moments of genuine humour and sensitivity.

Dan Hunter takes on the mammoth task of doubling up as the sexually confident Will and the aggressive and abusive brother Ben. Hunter commits fully to both roles but would have made more impact by portraying a more internal and subtle aggression as Ben. As Will, he is suitably sexual and overt and his awkward, frantic sexual encounter with Shane under a sheet is wonderfully cringe-worthy.

Murphy’s script provides humour and laughs however this production ultimately lacks the emotional punch the script deserves. That said, it is back by popular demand and if the audience reaction is anything to go by, you’ll end up having a great night.

Strangers In Between plays at the King’s Head Theatre until 4 February. For tickets click hereFor more great deals on tickets and events, visit

Words by Matthew Hyde

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