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Remembrance Monday review: A gay love story that balances humour and heartbreak

Remembrance Monday is playing at the Seven Dials Playhouse until 1 June 2024

4.0 rating

By Alastair James

Remembrance Monday
Nick Hayes and Matthew Stathers (Image: Danny Kaan)

Michael Batten’s Remembrance Monday is an incredibly moving piece of theatre. It’s raw, heartwrenching, and at times laugh out loud funny.

It focuses on Julius (Nick Hayes) and his relationship with Connor (Michael Stathers). Everything seems perfect for the handsome couple. However, Julius is also haunted by one Monday night. He replays it over again and again becoming increasingly frustrated as this happens. Play-by-play things begin to change in how things go down with flickering lights, shards of glass suspended from the ceiling, and static audio making Julius, and the audience, question what’s real and what’s not.

Remembrance Monday
Nick Hayes and Matthew Stathers (Image: Danny Kaan)

A two-hander, Remembrance Monday has been brilliantly cast. At the centre of this is a strong and exhilarating performance from Hayes. Never off stage, he commands the space with ease playing to each side of the in the round audience, which further accentuates his descent into madness. He shifts from the soft, gentle, wise-cracking, and in love version of Julius to a devastated and manic version. It’s heartbreaking to watch. As Connor, Stathers grounds everything with a steady and measured performance. Together they excel, bringing a natural chemistry to the stage and realising the idea of a young couple going from flirty and awkward banter to sharing their lives together openly and honestly.

The scripting is masterful, a demonstration of weaving light and dark together to create a wonderful piece of theatre. The audience is given enough time to see flashes of Julius and Connor’s relationship over the years so we see the origin of pet names and in-jokes, as well as hints at what is actually going on. Audiences may clock on at different times to what the reality here is but regardless, the reveal is still incredibly impactful. It’s a piece that will have you laughing one minute and will punch you firmly in the gut the next.

Remembrance Monday
Nick Hayes (Image: Danny Kaan)

Remembrance Monday also manages to balance several important topics. It deftly goes from homophobia, both systemic and institutionalised, to mental health, trauma, and more without feeling like any one of them has been shoe-horned in. It’s a relevant story in 2024 that also offers a fresh take on narratives explored elsewhere.

Remembrance Monday is playing at the Seven Dials Playhouse until 1 June 2024. Get tickets here.